Stocks, oil rise in Asia after US records

Japan's Nikkei was up 0.36 per cent and e-mini futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.5 per cent. — Reuters pic
Japan's Nikkei was up 0.36 per cent and e-mini futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.5 per cent. — Reuters pic

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TOKYO, Feb 9 ― Asian stock markets rose today after a record-setting day on Wall Street, while Bitcoin paused for breath after an overnight endorsement from Tesla Inc sent the cryptocurrency up 20 per cent.

Oil also hit 13-month highs, helped by rising optimism about a return in fuel demand.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was last up 0.32 per cent at 721.53 after climbing as high as 730.16 late last month.

Korea was an early riser, up 0.92 per cent while Chinese blue chips rose 0.49 per cent and Hong Kong nudged up 0.24 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei was up 0.36 per cent and e-mini futures for the S&P 500 were up 0.5 per cent.

The early action came after another day of so-called reflation trades around the world, in which global markets bid up stocks, oil and gold while US Treasury yields held near 11-month highs.

“Reflation on the back of US fiscal stimulus and positive vaccine news remains the major theme for markets,” strategists at National Australia Bank wrote.

Expectations have been building that inflation would pick up as governments and central banks continue massive spending and easy money policies until officials are certain that their economies will recover from the coronavirus pandemic.

Wall Street reached all-time closing highs yesterday as the Nasdaq Composite added nearly 1 per cent and the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained about 0.75 per cent.

In more volatile cryptocurrency markets, Bitcoin briefly passed US$47,000 (RM190,853) for the first time, a 20 per cent rise, before paring gains. It was last at US$45,669.

Tesla Inc said overnight it had invested around US$1.5 billion in the virtual currency and expects to accept it as payment for its cars in the future.

Justin d'Anethan, sales manager at digital asset company Diginex, said that so far most of the selling pressure in Asia had been absorbed.

“This morning, after over US$1.2billion of leveraged shorts got liquidated, the usual sellers of crypto will probably think twice before dumping their coins,” d'Anethan said.

Oil prices continued to rise today to 13-month highs.

Brent rose 33 cents, or 0.54 per cent, US West Texas Intermediate crude was at US$58.34 a barrel, up 37 cents, or 0.64 per cent.

“There is a sense that the glut of oil supply is disappearing more rapidly than anybody thought possible,” said Phil Flynn, senior analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago. “There seems to be a paradigm shift in the market.”

Spot gold rose 0.37 per cent to US$1,837 an ounce as expectations of a large US economic stimulus package bolstered its appeal as an inflation hedge.

Such expectations hit the dollar index, which dropped back today after tripping at the end of last week on a weaker-than-expected jobs report. It was last down 0.091 per cent at 90.868.

Against the yen, the dollar was down 0.12 per cent at 105.10. ― Reuters

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