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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - TOKYO/NEW YORK: Asian stocks hit a record high on Wednesday, as upbeat earnings, hopes of a large US fiscal stimulus and progress in vaccinations fanned optimism about a global recovery from the pandemic.
MSCI’s ex-Japan Asian shares index rose 0.8 percent, rising above its January peak to reach its highest level ever.
In mainland China’s CSI300 rose 1.3 percent to a 13-year high and the Shanghai Composite hit a five-year high on the last trading day before the week-long Lunar New Year holidays.
Japan’s Nikkei eked out gains of 0.1 percent while e-mini futures for the US S&P 500 rose 0.35 percent.
Corporate earnings have been beating expectations in many places including the United States and Japan.
In the latest example, shares of Lyft Inc. rose as much as 11.8 percent while Twitter Inc. climbed 3.5 percent in aftermarket trading on their latest quarterly results.
“Globally investors are raising weightings on stocks as the Biden administration looks set to spend pretty much close $1.9 trillion on its stimulus,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
Although US President Joe Biden’s stimulus package faces opposition from Republicans, his fellow Democrats last week approved a budget outline that will allow them to muscle the stimulus through in the coming weeks without Republican support.
On Wall Street, major stock indexes closed little changed on Tuesday, though the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eked out a record high on a gain of 0.14%. The S&P 500 lost 0.11 percent.
The S&P had climbed the previous six sessions and is up 5.3 percent for the month, underpinned by the prospects of the large US relief package.
The yield on the benchmark US 10-year Treasury notes was last at 1.16 percent, not far off Monday’s 10 1/2-month high of 1.20 percent.
Higher bond yields also reflect rising inflation expectations, with break-even inflation calculated from inflation-protected Treasuries rising to 2.20 percent, the highest since 2014.
The Fed has said it would tolerate inflation rising beyond 2 percent temporarily.
US inflation data, due later on Wednesday, is expected to show an annual rise of 1.5 percent in core CPI.
In the currency market, the dollar traded near two-week lows against a basket of currencies after sizable fall in the previous trade.
The dollar traded at 104.55 yen after 0.64 percent fall on Tuesday, its biggest in three months, while the euro changed hands at $1.2119, extending its rebound from a two-month low of $1.1952 touched on Friday.
The British pound held firm at $1.3822, hitting its highest level since April 2018.
The offshore Chinese yuan held firm at 6.4185 to the dollar , within sight of its 2 1/2-year high of 6.4119 set on Jan. 5.
Bitcoin, which gained 19.5 percent on Monday, stood little changed at $46,292, not far off its record high of $48,216 set on Tuesday.
Ethereum, the second-most-popular cryptocurrency, hit a record high of $1,826.
Spot gold added 0.3 percent to $1,842.8 an ounce after rising to a one-week high on Tuesday.
Brent oil held firm at $61.03 per barrel, near 13-month highs after a seven-day winning streak as investors are betting that fuel demand will rise while OPEC and allied producers keep a lid on supply.
“With Brent over $60, it’s been great psychologically,” said John Kilduff, partner at Again Capital LLC in New York. “Everyone is feeling bullish about stronger demand and global inventories in further decline.”
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