TOKYO, Oct 13 — Asian stocks held firm near a 10-year high today thanks to expectations of brisk global growth, although investors held off chasing the shares higher ahead of US and Chinese economic data as well as the Chinese Communist Party congress next week.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 per cent, having gained 3.4 per cent so far this month. Japan's Nikkei was little changed.
Wall Street shares dipped slightly yesterday, pulled down by a fall in AT&T after the telecoms company reported subscriber losses in its cable TV business.
But MSCI's broadest gauge of the world stocks exchanges covering 47 markets hit another record high, extending its gains so far this year to 17 per cent.
On top of a broad consensus that the global economy is in its best shape in recent years, expectations of a tax cut by US President Donald Trump are adding appeal.
“While we don't know the details of the tax reforms, the announcement of a plan to make the biggest tax overhaul in three decades triggered a fresh wave of reflation trade,” said Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities.
In currencies, the dollar lost some steam in recent days as US bond yields appeared to have peaked for now, with minutes from the last US Federal Reserve meeting showed policymakers remained divided on US inflation prospects.
The next big test for the US dollar is consumer inflation figures due later in the day.
“The data will likely be disrupted by the hurricanes. But if inflation is picking up, that is still positive for the dollar,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.
On top of the near-term inflation readings, investors are also looking to who Trump will nominate as successor to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, whose term expires next February.
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said yesterday that Trump was "some time away" from making a decision, while another official said Trump had met with Stanford University economist John Taylor to discuss the job.
Another main focus is China's 19th Communist Party Congress that begins on Oct 18, where President Xi Jinping is expected to lay out new policy initiatives and consolidate his power for a second five-year term.
Before that, Chinese trade data due later in the day will be the biggest focus in Asian trade.
The euro traded at US$1.1833, slipping from Thursday's high of US$1.1880 but has kept weekly gain of almost 1 percent, though the currency remains dogged by the crisis around the Catalonian independence movement's campaign to split from Spain.
The yen was little moved at 112.28 yen per dollar, though at that level, it is on course for a slight gain on the week, which would be its first in five weeks.
Bitcoin soared more than 10 per cent yesterday to hit a record high of US$5,388 (RM22,715), a gain of 450 per cent on the year.
The Chief Financial Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co said the firm is open minded on the potential use cases in future for digital currencies, appearing to dial back comments last month from his boss, Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, that bitcoin was a "fraud."
Copper prices held firm after hitting a one-month high yesterday as optimism over the demand outlook from major consumer China fuelled buying.
London copper futures were at US$6,875.5 a tonne early today.
Oil prices edged up today as both US crude production and inventories declined. US crude ticked up 0.32 per cent to US$50.76 a barrel. Brent crude rose to US$56.39 per barrel. — Reuters