Asia stocks rally after Dow hits record as inflation fears ease

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TOKYO – Asian stocks extended their rebound from a two-month low on Thursday (March 11) after a report on US consumer prices calmed concerns about inflation and lifted the Jones Industrial Average to a record close.

An of regional stocks excluding Japan rose 0.7 per cent, led by a 1.7 per cent surge in South Korea’s Kospi, and was on track for its first three-day advance in three weeks.

’s Shanghai Composite rallied 1.6 per cent, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.5 per cent.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index was up 0.6 per cent at 11.01am local time.

“The reflation trade is back on,” said McCarthy, chief markets strategist at CMC Markets.

“We saw bonds and stocks rallying together and a slight easing in the US dollar, which also indicates improving sentiment.”

The US Labor Department said its consumer price index rose 0.4 per cent in February, in line with expectations, after a 0.3 per cent increase in January. Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy components, edged up 0.1 per cent, just shy of the 0.2 per cent estimate.

While analysts largely expect a hike in inflation as vaccine roll-outs lead to a reopening of the economy, worries persist that additional stimulus in the form of a US$1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package set to be signed by US President Joe Biden could overheat the economy.

The House of Representatives gave final approval on Wednesday to the bill, one of the largest economic stimulus measures in US history.

Benchmark 10-year notes last yielded 1.5317 per cent, stabilising from lows of 1.5060 per cent overnight following an auction of benchmark 10-year notes that was not as bad as feared.

Investors will now eye an auction of 30-year debt on Thursday, seeking to cover massive shorts. A weak seven-year auction in late February helped fuel inflation concerns and sent yields higher.

“Rises in US bond yields appear to have subsided a bit after the 10-year yield has reached 1.5 per cent, even though many investors remain cautious before the Fed’s policy meeting,” said Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Asset Management.

“The Fed has ratcheted up its rhetoric on bond yields lately. The reality is, the economy is in a K-shaped recovery, with the service sector still in difficult conditions and the Fed would probably not want to let real interest rates rise.”

The fall in the 10-year yield after the auction wasn’t enough to help the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which lagged both the Dow and the S&P 500 after its strong move on Tuesday, as investors stayed with names expected to benefit from the economic reopening like financials.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.45 per cent to a record closing high, the S&P 500 gained 0.60 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.04 per cent.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were largely flat on Thursday in Asia.

Europe’s main index hovered near pre-pandemic highs.

MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.27 per cent.

Gold held near a one-week high reached Wednesday as US Treasury yields eased.

Spot gold prices rose 0.2 per cent to US$1,729.62 an ounce.

The US dollar moved lower following the economic data, and remained weaker in Asian trading.

The dollar index slipped to 91.776, following a 0.2 per cent drop overnight.

The euro stood at US$1.1932 while the safe-haven yen eased slightly to 108.52 per dollar.

Oil prices resumed their climb following two days of declines, after the Energy Information Administration reported a bigger-than-expected storage build.

US crude futures stood at US$64.95 per barrel, up 50 cents or 0.78 per cent. Brent crude futures were at US$68.38 per barrel, up 48 cents or 0.71 per cent.

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