TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares rose on Wednesday as investors kept hopes high for more monetary policy stimulus to support the faltering global economy, but trading may be subdued with U.S. markets closed for the Independence Day holiday.
U.S. equities rallied while European shares closed at a two-month high on Tuesday on expectations of more stimulus action by central banks, as well as better-than-expected U.S. data on new orders for manufactured goods in May.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.3 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei average opened up 0.6 percent.
“Markets are likely to remain unsettled on overriding growth-related concerns, but emerging market valuations already reflect reasonable worst-case outcomes and there is also scope for (unanticipated) policy action,” Morgan Stanley said in a research note.
“July is likely to be characterised by a gradual recovery in EM (emerging market) risk markets as valuations adjust from what we see as broadly oversold conditions,” it said.
The European Central Bank is expected to cut its main refinancing rate to a record low below 1 percent at its policy meeting on Thursday. Money market traders are evenly split on whether the ECB will cut the deposit rate.
The ECB has two other interest rates: the marginal lending rate that banks use for emergency overnight borrowing and its deposit rate which acts as a floor for the money market.
Few expect the ECB to take other measures, such as reactivating the bank’s bond-buy plan – a tool that could effectively cap borrowing costs in highly-indebted states.
Ahead of the meeting, traders saw the euro consolidate between $1.2560/1.2660.
The euro stood at $1.2604, still well below Friday’s high of $1.2693.
Improvement was limited in Asian credit markets, with the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index narrowing marginally by 2 basis points.
Commodity markets shot higher for the second time in three days on Tuesday. Oil prices lead the way as commodity markets posted one of their biggest, broadest rallies ever on Mideast supply worries, as tensions rose over Iran’s nuclear programme, as well as on revived hopes for more economic stimulus.
The benchmark Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities benchmark, rose nearly 3 percent to a 7-1/2 week high on Tuesday. It has gained 7.7 percent over the past three sessions, the third-largest three-day gain on record.
U.S. crude futures was nearly flat at $87.68 a barrel after jumping $3.91 to settle at the highest close since May 30, while Brent was also little changed at $100.65 a barrel after also rising more than $3 to end at the highest settlement since May 31.
Grains extended their biggest surge in years on concerns over a deepening drought damaging crops in the U.S. Midwest, while copper and gold gained on expectations for more upside if central banks strengthen their easing stance.
Spot gold inched up 0.1 percent at $1,618.49 an ounce, after gaining 1.5 percent to a two-week high on Tuesday.
But currency strategist at Societe Generale Kit Juckes warned the commodities’ rally was more to do with short covering and not likely to be sustainable, keeping a bearish stance on the euro and commodity-linked currencies.
“When backtesting since the 1960s, you need loose monetary policy and an expectation of the business cycle picking up to get a sustained rally,” Juckes said. “We are missing a sense of stabilisation in the cycle, let alone a recovery.”
(Editing by Michael Perry)
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