Asian stocks rise, NZ dollar hits 11-month low

SINGAPORE: Asian stocks rose on Thursday, getting a lift from a record high close on MSCI’s global stocks benchmark as strong gains in oil prices buoyed energy shares.
European stocks are headed for a less robust open, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expecting Britain’s FTSE 100 to open 0.1 per cent lower, while France’s CAC 40 and Germany’s DAX are seen starting the day flat.
The New Zealand dollar plunged to its lowest level since June 2016 after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand surprised markets by keeping a neutral bias at its policy review while holding interest rates steady at a record low 1.75 per cent.
The New Zealand dollar slumped 1.5 per cent to $0.6835, also its biggest one-day loss since June 2016.
Oil prices extended their 3 per cent-plus overnight gains, their biggest one-day jump since December 1, following a steep drop in US inventories and support from Iraq and Algeria for an extension to Opec supply cuts.
US crude rose 0.55 per cent to $47.59 a barrel on Thursday.
Global benchmark Brent crude advanced 0.5 per cent to $50.46.
“We saw the biggest draw in inventories for the year last week with stockpiles down more than 5 million barrels.
And it looks like Opec’s production cut is finally biting,” said Greg McKenna, Chief Market Strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan and Japan’s Nikkei both rose 0.3 per cent on Thursday.
Chinese shares slid 0.35 per cent weighed down by lingering concerns over lending curbs.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 0.25 per cent.
South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.9 per cent.
On Wednesday, the index hit a third consecutive all-time intra-day high before ending below the previous close.
MSCI’s global stock benchmark was steady, after posting a record high closing price overnight, bolstered by an almost 1 per cent jump in energy shares.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq closed about 0.1 per cent higher, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended the day almost 0.2 per cent lower.
With volatility at the lowest level in more than a decade, “global equities, led by the S&P 500 are moving higher, but at a very subdued pace,” Chris Weston, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note.
Political tensions in the US also capped Wall Street gains, as the fallout from the sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday sapped confidence in US President Donald Trump’s ability to push through his economic agenda.
Democrats intensified accusations that Comey’s removal was intended to undermine the FBI probe into possible collusion between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia to sway the 2016 election and demanded an independent investigation into the alleged Russian meddling.
The dollar retained most of its overnight gains on rising risk appetite and higher US Treasury yields after a soft 10-year note auction.
The dollar was little changed at 114.22 yen, hovered near Wednesday’s near-two-month intra-day high after four straight sessions of gains.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of trade-weighted peers, was also steady at 99.686.
The 10-year US Treasury yield fell back to 2.398 after closing near the session high of 2.416 per cent on Wednesday. Sterling was fractionally lower at $1.2933, ahead of a Bank of England policy meeting at 1100 GMT.
— Reuters