Tokyo set to extend record as Asian markets track Wall St rally


HONG KONG, Oct 25, 2017 (BSS/AFP) – Japanese investors pressed on with their buying on Wednesday, pushing the Nikkei towards a 17th straight gain following another record close on Wall Street, while other Asian markets edged up.

A fresh round of strong earnings in New York reinforced confidence in the global economy, while attention turns to a key European Central Bank meeting and President Donald Trump’s pick to take the helm at the Federal Reserve.

Construction titan Caterpillar, which is considered a bellwether of economic optimism, as well as industrials giant 3M both posted healthy reports, helping the Dow to a sixth straight record in seven trading days.

The news boosted hopes for other companies as the earnings season gets into full swing.

“Last night’s report from Caterpillar, which beat profit and sales estimates, underwrote what has been improved sentiment about the outlook for global growth,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, in a note.

Tokyo was up 0.1 percent by the break, extending a rally never seen since the index was established almost 70 years ago.

The run is being fuelled by hopes that re-elected Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will push on with further economy-boosting measures as well ongoing weakness in the yen against the dollar.

Hong Kong added 0.5 percent after two days of losses, while Shanghai was flat as dealers await the unveiling of China’s cabinet later in the day. Sydney added 0.2 percent, Seoul gained 0.1 percent and Taipei also edged up while Singapore was flat.

– Fed pick, ECB in focus –

On currency markets the dollar held its gains from last week’s passing of a key budget bill that opened the way for Trump’s tax plan. But investors are keeping watch on events in Washington as the president deals with fractious members of his own Republican party.

“The big news is that House of Republicans are now scheduled to release a full tax reform bill to the public next Wednesday, but Senate mutter tempered the mood as Republican Senators Bob Corker, John McCain, Rand Paul may not support tax overhaul,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia Pacific trading at OANDA.

The euro is also in focus ahead of the ECB’s policy meeting Thursday, at which it is expected to announce a big reduction in its bond-buying stimulus as the eurozone economy picks up.

However, the Catalan independence crisis in Spain, one of the eurozone’s biggest economies, continues to play on nerves.

Dealers are also awaiting Trump’s decision on who will run the Fed when Janet Yellen’s term ends early next year

Shane Chanel, equities and derivatives adviser at ASR Wealth Advisers, said of the two frontrunners Stanford University professor John Taylor, a hawk, would be bad for markets as he would push for higher rates quicker.

But Jerome Powell, he added, would likely offer more of the same to the present policy of gradual rises.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 21,830.78 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.5 percent at 29,294.09

Shanghai – Composite: FLAT at 3,388.20

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1761 from $1.1760 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3129 from $1.3131

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.89 yen from 113.93 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN three cents at $52.44 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 10 cents at $58.43 per barrel

New York – DOW: UP 0.7 percent at 23,441.76 (close)

London – FTSE 100: FLAT at 7,526.54 (close)