Asian markets mostly gain, dollar struggles after inflation data

Agence France Presse

Posted at Oct 16 2017 06:28 PM

HONG KONG - Asian markets extended gains on Monday after a positive lead from Wall Street while the dollar struggled following more weak US inflation figures. 

Equities around the world continue to rally on optimism about the global economy and the current corporate earnings season, with all three main New York indexes up following robust retail sales figures in the world's largest economy.

Tokyo stocks hit another 21-year high, gaining 0.5 percent as traders were buoyed by upbeat corporate earnings, and largely shrugged off the Kobe Steel falsified data scandal and a relatively strong yen.

Polls showing Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on track for a landslide win in Japan's general election Sunday boosted sentiment, as did Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda's signal that loose monetary policy would continue.

Hong Kong ended up 0.8 percent at a new 10-year high, while there were also healthy gains in Sydney, Seoul and Singapore.

But Shanghai fell 0.4 percent ahead of the twice-a-decade National Congress starting Wednesday -- President Xi Jinping is set to be handed a second term, while changes to several key leadership positions in China's ruling party are expected.

The losses came despite data showing China's factory price inflation rose in September, which indicated improving domestic demand and providing a positive signal for political efforts to reduce the economy's dependence on exports and state investment.

Dealers also brushed off remarks from the country's central bank chief that he expects strong growth in the second half despite fears of slowdown, saying the world's number-two economy could grow seven percent after expanding 6.9 percent in the first six months.

"The momentum of economic growth has rebounded this year," People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan said at a G30 International Banking Seminar on Sunday, according to remarks published on the bank's website Monday.

Europe's stock markets advanced in opening deals, following the broad gains in Asia, with London up 0.3 percent, and Paris and Frankfurt each 0.2 percent higher.

OIL PRICES RALLY

Oil prices rose following armed exchanges between Iraqi and Kurdish forces near the oil city of Kirkuk early Monday.

Baghdad said its forces had taken control of a main military base as well as roads and infrastructure from Kurdish fighters near the disputed city, as tensions soar following a controversial independence referendum.

It follows Trump's announcement that he was "decertifying" the Iran nuclear deal Friday, which also provided support to crude.

The US president stopped short of nullifying the deal, but sent the agreement to Congress and warned "our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time".

Trump's announcement was expected, blunting some of its impact on markets. 

The dollar weakened against the yen and pound after figures showing US inflation remains stubbornly low.

However Federal Reserve chief Janet Yellen voiced optimism that consumer prices will soon increase, a position echoed by European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi.

"My best guess is that these soft (inflation) readings will not persist," Yellen told weekend IMF meetings, adding that "with the ongoing strengthening of labor markets, I expect inflation to move higher next year".