Stocks extend winning run on optimism inflation peaking



SINGAPORE : Asian stocks advanced on Tuesday and the dollar steadied below a recent peak ahead of U.S. inflation data that some strategists said could offer another signal that inflation has peaked.

S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures held firm, while European stock futures dipped, setting the stage for a subdued start for European markets.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares ex-Japan rose 0.8 per cent, led by a 2.6 per cent jump for South Korea's KOSPI. Japan's Nikkei put on 0.2 per cent.

The MSCI gauge has risen for four days in a row, bouncing back from two-year lows.

Analysts, however, warned that U.S. core inflation is likely to march on and that the near-term rate implications are unclear.

"It's too early to be celebrating the end of inflation, as some market participants seem already to be doing," said ING economist Rob Carnell.

Interest rate futures imply a 90 per cent chance that the Federal Reserve lifts its benchmark interest rate by 75 basis points at next week's policy meeting - a position that is perhaps most vulnerable to a downside CPI surprise.

"A further cooling in inflation would support the case for a step down in the pace of policy tightening to a 50 basis points rate hike at the FOMC meeting next week," said Kristina Clifton, a senior economist at CBA.

"Nevertheless, an upside surprise to inflation will easily cement market expectations of another outsized 75 basis points rate hike."

U.S. inflation figures are due at 1230 GMT and the consensus is for the core inflation rate last month to have risen 0.3 per cent month-on-month, the same as in July.

On Monday, Wall Street indexes posted a fourth straight session of gains.

DOLLAR BELOW RECENT PEAK

Asia data out on Tuesday offered a cloudy picture of regional economies. A 9 per cent year-on-year jump in Japanese wholesale prices points to pressure on corporate margins, yet a slowdown in gains for August holds some hope of relief.

In New Zealand, rate hikes which began a year ago are starting to bite, sending home prices down 6 per cent since last August.

The investment banking world is also offering a counterpoint to stock markets' enthusiasm. Goldman Sachs is mulling job cuts, a person familiar with the plans told Reuters.

A KKR-led consortium has told Australia's Ramsay Health Care it will not improve its $14.5 billion cash-and-stock offer for the hospital operator, a move that will likely put a deal on ice.

In currency markets the dollar is off recent peaks. Its index against major peers was steady at 108.16, after falling 0.7 per cent overnight, the largest daily decline since August. Tailwinds from last week's European rate hike have the euro extending a bounce and above parity at $1.0127.

Even the battered Japanese yen is having a breather at 142.5 per dollar - a bit stronger than last week's 24-year low at 144.99 with some investors closing bets on a further slide as risks of official intervention increase.

U.S. Treasury yields rose overnight after some lacklustre auctions. Selling was heaviest at the very long end, with the 30-year yield up about 6 bps to around 3.5 per cent.

Benchmark 10-year yields steadied at 3.3425 per cent in Tokyo trade on Tuesday, beneath the two-year yield of 3.5489 per cent.

Gold was steady at $1,722 an ounce. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Jacqueline Wong)


Source: Reuters