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Japan shares hit 6-month top, U.S. dollar in demand

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Japanese shares hit a six-month top on Tuesday as the dollar advanced on the yen, while risk sentiment got a lift after factory surveys in the United States and Europe boasted the best readings of the year so far.

City workers walk past Australia's stock exchange index on an electronic board in Sydney, September 20, 2016 a day after Australia's Security Exchange suffered a technical glitch which disrupted trading. REUTERS/Jason Reed

There were also tentative hopes rising prices for steel and some industrial commodities - zinc surged to a five-year peak and iron ore reached its highest since mid-2014 - could pick up the pulse of inflation globally.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.7 percent to levels last seen in April as a softening yen burnished the outlook for the country’s exporters. Australian stocks added 0.6 percent and Taiwan 0.7 percent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan ticked 0.1 percent firmer, as did EMini futures for the S&P 500. Spread betters tipped moderate opening gains for European bourses.

South Korea’s main index slipped 0.5 percent after data showed Samsung Electronics’ decision to scrap its Galaxy Note 7 dragged on the entire economy in the third quarter, though growth still pipped forecasts.

Wall Street had taken encouragement from upbeat corporate results and the Dow ended Monday up 0.46 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.47 percent and the Nasdaq 0.91 percent.

Over one third of U.S. companies have now reported and 80 percent have beaten market expectations. Another third of the S&P 500 components are scheduled to report earnings this week, including heavyweights Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Boeing.

Merger and acquisition activity added extra fizz in the wake of AT&T Inc’s $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner Inc, though the deal seemed destined to face stringent scrutiny from regulators.


Aiding risk sentiment was the Markit survey of U.S. manufacturing which climbed to a one-year top of 53.2.

Business activity in the euro zone expanded at the fastest pace this year so far in October and firms raised prices at the sharpest rate in more than five years.

The better news led investors to nudge up the probability of a December rate hike from the Federal Reserve to around 74 percent and pressured Treasury prices.

It also lifted the U.S. dollar to a nine-month high against a basket of major currencies at 98.846. The dollar firmed on the yen to 104.43, threatening the month’s peak at 104.62, while the euro struggled at $1.0878.

One mover was the Canadian dollar which rebounded from a seven-month low after Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said the decision on whether to cut interest rates again was not one to take lightly.

The comments countered recent speculation about an imminent easing and nudged the U.S. dollar down to C$1.3333 from a peak at C$1.3398.

In commodities, oil prices dipped on news of the impending restart of Britain’s Buzzard oilfield and Iraq’s wish to be exempted from OPEC production cuts.

Brent was down 9 cents at $51.37 a barrel, while U.S. crude also lost 2 cents to $50.50.

Going the other way was iron ore, with Chinese iron ore futures reaching their highest since August 2014.

Coal prices also reached new peaks after weeks of gains, a prop for the Australian dollar as the two commodities are the country’s biggest export earners.

Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Eric Meijer and Joseph Radford