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  1. Asian shares near 2-month high ahead of China data

Asian shares near 2-month high ahead of China data

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed but stayed near its two-month high hit on Friday.

By: | Published: October 19, 2015 7:33 AM
asian stock market

Asian shares held little changed near two-month highs in early Monday trade, with investors looking to a range of economic data from China for clues to exactly how far China’s growth has cooled down. (AP Photo)

Asian shares held little changed near two-month highs in early Monday trade, with investors looking to a range of economic data from China for clues to exactly how far China’s growth has cooled down.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed but stayed near its two-month high hit on Friday. Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.2 percent.

On Friday, MSCI ACWI, the index compiler’s broadest gauge of world stocks comprising 46 markets, rose to a two-month high.

The index has recovered 8.8 percent from a two-year low hit on Sept 29, coming close to a 50 percent retracement of its decline from a record high reached in April.

The CBOE volatility index, often seen as a gauge of investors’ fears in Wall Street shares, fell to a two-month low of 15.05 percent.

“Compared to some time ago, more people think things are starting to look up. Yet there remain concerns on the outlook of the global economy,” said Yoshinori Shigemi, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

With many investors still struggling to assess the true extent of slowdown in China, a set of economic indicators from China due at 10:00 a.m. (0200 GMT) is the biggest focus.

The data includes July-September GDP, September industrial production and retail sales.

Economists expect growth in China to have slowed to 6.8 percent in the previous quarter, which would be the weakest reading since the first quarter of 2009, from 7 percent in the second quarter.

Yet expectations that Beijing will roll out fresh stimulus to support the economy, coupled with Chinese authorities’ very substantial measures to prop up share prices, have helped to lift mainland Chinese shares to two-month highs last week .

Reliance on hopes of stimulus is not limited to China. “Part of the rally in global equity markets has been driven by expectation of stimulus in Europe and Japan,” JPMorgan Asset’s Shigemi said.

Expectations that the European Central Bank (ECB) may enhance its stimulus at its meeting on Thursday have risen after dovish comments from an ECB policymaker and a soft reading on consumer prices last week.

Investors think that if the Bank of Japan were to refresh its stimulus it would do so at its policy meeting on Oct. 30 month given the current fears that Japan’s economy is hardly recovering after a contraction in April-June.

In the currency market, the dollar held firm against a basket of six other major currencies, after US industrial production data and as the euro and the yen were capped by speculation of more money printing.

The dollar’s index stood at 94.607, on track to extend its rebound from its seven-week low of 93.806 hit on Thursday.

The euro stood at $1.1367, little changed so far this week but off Thursday’s high of $1.1495.

The yen traded at 119.27 yen to the dollar, off its seven-week peak of 118.065.

Oil prices edged up in early trade on Monday, extending a rebound on Friday after almost a week of decline.

Brent futures were $50.59 per barrel, up 0.3 percent from late US levels last week.

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