TOKYO,. Asian stocks rose on today tracking a Wall Street rally as dovish comments from Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell boosted investor sentiment towards riskier assets.
The US dollar sagged against its peers on Powell’s comments, which suggested the Fed’s interest rate hike cycle may come to an end faster than initially anticipated.
The Fed chair said yesterday that US policy rates were “just below” neutral, less than two months after saying rates were probably “a long way” from that point.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6 per cent. Australian stocks gained 0.8 per cent and Japan’s Nikkei climbed 0.9 per cent.
However, while a robust Wall Street buoyed Asian shares, gains in the region were nonetheless limited ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping due to take place on the sidelines of the G20 summit.
The Dow rallied 2.5 per cent and Nasdaq surged nearly 3 per cent yesterday as Powell’s comments eased concerns of a faster pace of rate hikes in 2019.
“Equities gained as Powell hinted of implementing fewer rate hikes when the economy is still doing well,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.
“The likelihood slower US monetary tightening caused the dollar to slump against currencies, particularly the euro, which could soon benefit from an ECB rate hike.”
The euro was steady at US$1.1366 after advancing 0.7 per cent the previous day.
The US dollar was little changed at 113.57 yen after being knocked down from a two-week high above 114.00 scaled overnight.
The Australian dollar, sensitive to shifts in broader risk sentiment, jumped more than 1 per cent yesterday and last stood at US$0.7306.
The US dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was effectively flat at 96.828 following an overnight loss of 0.6 per cent.
The US two-year Treasury yield extended a modest decline from the previous day following Powell’s comments. The yield was down 1 basis point at 2.802 per cent.
In commodities, US crude futures were up 0.7 per cent at US$50.65 (RM212.20) per barrel, paring some losses after sliding 2.5 per cent the previous day.
Oil prices sank yesterday after US crude inventories rose for the 10th straight week to the highest in a year, adding to worries about a worldwide supply glut. — Reuters