Asia rally ticks along as Tokyo extends surge to 12th day

Agence France Presse

Posted at Oct 18 2017 06:36 PM

HONG KONG - The rally on global markets extended into Asia on Wednesday after another record on Wall Street, while eyes turn to a key meeting of China's leadership.

The Dow and S&P 500 closed at new all-time highs following solid results from big firms including Johnson & Johnson and Goldman Sachs, which reinforced confidence across trading floors.

However, some analysts are warning of a retreat before the end of the year, with Goldman citing the fate of Donald Trump's tax plan as key.

Hong Kong edged 0.1 percent higher to rack up a fifth successive day of gains that have left it at a 10-year high, while Sydney and Wellington were both marginally higher.

Tokyo ended up 0.1 percent at another 21-year high -- its 12th straight gain -- but Seoul dropped 0.1 percent, and Taipei, Manila and Jakarta also turned negative.

In early European trade London and Frankfurt each rose 0.2 percent while Paris was 0.1 percent higher.

Shanghai was up 0.3 percent. Chinese dealers are watching Beijing, where the Communist Party on Wednesday kicked off its once-a-decade congress to hand Xi Jinping a second five-year term, consolidating his already immense power at the helm of the world's number-two economy.

Markets are hoping the leadership provides some idea about future policy, particularly in tackling the country's titanic debt mountain and possible further liberalization.

RACE FOR THE FED

On currency markets the dollar extended its gains against its major peers. The pound was down on Brexit uncertainty and fading expectations of a Bank of England interest rate hike, despite inflation hitting a more than five-year high.

The euro is also struggling from the crisis in Spain after Catalonia's unofficial independence referendum that has fanned worries about one of the eurozone's biggest economies.

However, the Mexican peso rose 1.5 percent, rebounding from losses stemming from news that talks on reforming the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and the United States had been pushed into 2018 owing to disagreements between the three.

Traders are also tracking the race to lead the Federal Reserve when Janet Yellen's term finishes early next year.

The greenback turned higher after it emerged that fiscal hawk and Stanford University economist John Taylor had impressed Trump at an interview last week, making him a front-runner for some experts and fanning speculation of further rate hikes.

Oil prices rose following data showing a drop in US stockpiles and with the commodity continuing to get support from ongoing battles between Iraqi and Kurdish forces in the disputed northern Iraq province of Kirkuk.

Crude fields taken Tuesday by the Iraqi army accounted for more than 400,000 of the 650,000 barrels per day that the autonomous Kurdish region used to export in defiance of Baghdad.