Japanese shares climb to two-decade highs
Sydney — Japanese shares jumped on a weaker yen on Monday as an election win for Shinzo Abe’s ruling bloc gave a green light for more super-easy policy stimulus, while the euro eased as Spain’s constitutional crisis aggravated the concern about political unity in the region.
The dollar was the major beneficiary as President Donald Trump and Republicans took a small step toward tax cuts, boosting Wall Street stocks and lifting bond yields.
Japan’s Nikkei raced up 1% to its highest since 1996 after Prime Minister Abe looked to have easily won in national elections over the weekend.
Investors assumed the victory would allow the Bank of Japan (BoJ) to continue with massive monetary easing that depresses bond yields and the yen, even as the US Federal Reserve seems determined to increase rates again in December.
"This should extend the lifespan of ‘Abenomics’, including the BoJ’s mega stimulus", wrote analysts at the Blackrock Investment Institute.
"We see the outcome as a mild positive for Japanese equities, and as a mild negative for the yen and Japanese government bonds."
The dollar rose 0.4% to reach ¥113.99, the highest since mid-July when it got as far as ¥114.49 before running out of puff. A break there would open the way to the March peaks around ¥115.51. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar edged up 0.2%. The yen even slipped against the euro, which was having its own troubles as the Spanish government urged Catalans to accept its decision to dismiss their secessionist leadership and to take control of the restive region.
The nation’s biggest political crisis in decades enters a decisive week as Madrid tries to impose its control, although investors have so far assumed the political strife would not spread elsewhere in the EU.
The euro eased a modest 0.25% on Monday to $1.1758 and has strong chart support around $1.1729.
It faces another hurdle on Thursday when the European Central Bank (ECB) meets amid much talk it will cut back the amount of assets it buys every month, but also extend the programme.
"As we have argued for some time now, the length of time the [quantitative easing] programme runs for matters more than monthly size," said analysts at RBC Capital Markets.
"So while we look for a reduction by at least €30bn in net terms … we also expect that the ECB will keep the programme open ended."
Asian share markets could get a tailwind from Wall Street’s record finish on Friday when the passage of a US Senate budget resolution bolstered hopes that Trump’s tax-cut plan may move forward.
The Dow ended Friday with gains of 0.71%, while the S&P 500 rose 0.51% and the Nasdaq 0.36%. Early Monday, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was a whisker firmer while South Korea put on 0.3%. In commodity markets, a firmer dollar nudged gold down 0.4% to $1,275.07/oz.
Oil prices started firmer on Monday following a sharp decline in Iraqi crude exports due to tension in the Kurdistan region.
Brent crude rose 16c to $57.91 a barrel, while US crude futures added 28c to $52.12.