Asia Shares Advance on Strong China GDP, Cautious Fed View

SINGAPORE (Reuters) —
A man is reflected on an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Ken Aragaki)

Asian stocks hit a two-year high on Monday, boosted by stronger-than-expected economic growth in China and bets that lackluster U.S. data will keep the Federal Reserve cautious about the pace of policy tightening.

European markets also looked set for a positive start, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expecting Britain’s FTSE 100 and Germany’s DAX to open 0.2 percent higher, and France’s CAC 40 to start the day up 0.1 percent.

Chinese blue-chips recouped steep early losses after data showed the world’s second-largest economy grew at a slightly faster than expected clip of 6.9 percent in the second quarter, thanks to robust industrial output, retail sales and exports.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended earlier gains to climb 0.3 percent after the buoyant China readings. Japanese markets were closed for a holiday.

Australian shares were down 0.2 percent, while South Korea’s KOSPI jumped 0.4 percent.

China stocks fell more than 2 percent in early trade, but the main indexes later recouped most of their losses as the buoyant GDP reading prompted investors to scoop up blue chips on expectations of better earnings.

Jingyi Pan, a market strategist at IG in Singapore, said the market fell initially after news at the weekend that President Xi Jinping wants to create a new cabinet-level committee to coordinate financial oversight, sparking concerns of further policy tightening.

Asian markets also rode the updraft from a strong Wall Street performance on Friday.

The Dow and S&P 500 hit record highs after data showed consumer prices were unchanged in June and retail sales fell for a second straight month, pointing to tame inflation and subdued expectations of strong economic growth in the second quarter, which could make Fed policymakers more cautious.

The chance of a Fed rate hike in December fell to 43.1 percent after the data, from 55 percent late on Thursday, according to the CME Group’s Fedwatch tool.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of trade-weighted peers, hit a 10-month low early on Monday. It was trading almost 0.1 percent higher at 95.212 after losing 0.6 percent on Friday.

“Friday’s U.S. data led to more USD selling,” Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA, wrote in a note.

“With less than a 50 percent December rate hike probability priced in, and with no supportive Fed speak on the calendar before July 26th, the dollar could struggle.”

U.S. 10-year Treasury yields, however, which fell to as low as 2.279, recovered to end at 2.319 percent on Friday.

The dollar was 0.1 percent higher at 112.635 yen on Monday, after closing down 0.6 percent on Friday.

The Bank of Japan is expected to keep its monetary policy settings unchanged when it meets on Wednesday and Thursday.

The weakness in the dollar saw other currencies soar, with the Australian dollar hitting its highest level in over two years and the Canadian dollar touching a one-year high early on Monday.

The Aussie pulled back to trade 0.2 percent lower than its Friday close at $0.7813, following a 1.3 percent surge, and the loonie was 0.1 percent weaker at C$1.2659 to the dollar, retaining most of Friday’s 0.6 percent jump.

The euro slipped 0.1 percent to $1.14585, but remained close to its highest in a year hit last week, after gaining 0.6 percent on Friday.

In commodities, oil inched higher, extending last week’s gains on signs of lower U.S. inventories and stronger demand.

U.S. crude rose 0.3 percent to $46.66 a barrel.

Global benchmark Brent added 0.3 percent to $49.07.

The dollar’s loss was gold’s gain, with the precious metal rising on Friday. Spot gold was 0.1 percent higher at $1,229.90 an ounce.

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