Asia shares firm to near ten-year high ahead of U.S. data, China Congress


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TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks held firm near a 10-year high on Friday thanks to expectations of brisk global growth, although investors held off chasing the shares higher ahead of U.S. and Chinese economic data as well as the Chinese Communist Party congress next week.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.1 percent, having gained 3.4 percent so far this month. Japan’s Nikkei .N225 was little changed.

Wall Street shares dipped slightly on Thursday, pulled down by a fall in AT&T (T.N) after the telecoms company reported subscriber losses in its cable TV business.

But MSCI’s .MIWD00000PUS broadest gauge of the world stocks exchanges covering 47 markets hit another record high, extending its gains so far this year to 17 percent.

On top of a broad consensus that the global economy is in its best shape in recent years, expectations of a tax cut by U.S. President Donald Trump are adding appeal.

“While we don’t know the details of the tax reforms, the announcement of a plan to make the biggest tax overhaul in three decades triggered a fresh wave of reflation trade,” said Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities.

In currencies, the dollar lost some steam in recent days as U.S. bond yields appeared to have peaked for now, with minutes from the last U.S. Federal Reserve meeting showed policymakers remained divided on U.S. inflation prospects.

The next big test for the dollar is U.S. consumer inflation figures due later in the day.

“The data will likely be disrupted by the hurricanes. But if inflation is picking up, that is still positive for the dollar,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.

On top of the near-term inflation readings, investors are also looking to who Trump will nominate as successor to Fed Chair Janet Yellen, whose term expires next February.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly said on Thursday that Trump was “some time away” from making a decision, while another official said Trump had met with Stanford University economist John Taylor to discuss the job.

Another main focus is China’s 19th Communist Party Congress that begins on Oct 18, where President Xi Jinping is expected to lay out new policy initiatives and consolidate his power for a second five-year term.

Before that, Chinese trade data due later in the day will be the biggest focus in Asian trade.

The euro EUR= traded at $1.1833, slipping from Thursday’s high of $1.1880 but has kept weekly gain of almost 1 percent, though the currency remains dogged by the crisis around the Catalonian independence movement’s campaign to split from Spain.

The yen was little moved at 112.28 yen per dollar JPY=, though at that level, it is on course for a slight gain on the week, which would be its first in five weeks.

Bitcoin soared more than 10 percent on Thursday to hit a record high of $5,388 BTC=BTSP, a gain of 450 percent on the year.

The Chief Financial Officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) said the firm is open minded on the potential use cases in future for digital currencies, appearing to dial back comments last month from his boss, Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon, that bitcoin was a “fraud”.

Copper prices held firm after hitting a one-month high on Thursday as optimism over the demand outlook from major consumer China fueled buying.

London copper futures CMCU3 were at $6,875.5 a tonne early on Friday.

Oil prices edged up on Friday as both U.S. crude production and inventories declined. U.S. crude CLc1 ticked up 0.32 percent to $50.76 a barrel. Brent crude LCOc1 rose to $56.39 per barrel.

Reporting by Hideyuki Sano; Editing by Eric Meijer

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