Asian equities gain on US stimulus hopes
Concern about crackdown on Chinese companies knocks shares in Tencent and Alibaba more than 4%
Singapore — Bonds nursed losses and stock markets rose on Thursday in anticipation of a big-borrowing and big-spending Democrat administration driving growth, after runoff elections that gave the party control of both houses of the US Congress.
US treasuries suffered their steepest sell-off in months after Democrat victories in two Georgia races handed them narrow control of the Senate and the power to pass their agenda.
S&P 500 futures rose 0.6% and Nasdaq 100 futures rose 0.9% as markets seemed to shake off a late fade that pulled Wall Street indices back from fresh record peaks when chaotic protests in Washington unnerved traders.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.8% to just shy of a record high, led by a 2.6% jump by South Korea’s chipmaker-heavy Kospi and a 1.8% gain by Australia’s miner-and-bank heavy ASX 200.
Japan’s Nikkei rose 2% to its highest since 1990. FTSE and European futures rose slightly.
“It’s basically a reflation trade,” said Mathan Somasundaram, head of Sydney-based research firm Deep Data Analytics, who added that the Democrat sweep was unexpected by most investors and “changes a lot”.
“Even though it’s a razor-thin margin, it gives Democrats a two-year window [to pursue their agenda],” he said. “Anything that benefits from rising prices is going to do well ... when you look at the policy settings they are trying to get through, it’s about printing [money for] main street and not Wall Street.”
Wednesday’s bond sell-off pushed the yield on benchmark 10-year US treasuries over 1% for the first time since March. It rose as high as 1.0507% on Thursday.
The dollar also sank as the result became clearer, because currency traders reckon that big and growing US trade deficits and budget deficits will weigh on the greenback.
The dollar struck an almost three-year low against the euro of $1.2349 and hovered near that level on Thursday. It also fell to multiyear troughs against the Australian and New Zealand dollars and the Swiss franc.
The exuberance was tempered by some selling in tech stocks, as investors expect the sector to face taxes and regulations, and by unsettling scenes of protesters storming the Capitol to disrupt certifying President Donald Trump’s electoral defeat.
Wall Street eased from session highs as police evacuated legislators and struggled for more than three hours to clear the Capitol of Trump supporters.
“What give us a little bit of a pause is that the economy is still very fragile and I think it’s unlikely that Democrats are going to have as easy of a time as markets are trying to predict in passing some of these policies,” said Tim Chubb, chief investment officer at wealth adviser Girard in Pennsylvania.
Congress has since reconvened to resume the election certification.
Shares in Twitter slipped slightly after hours when the social network said it had temporarily locked Trump’s account for violating the platform’s rules.
Meanwhile a US crackdown on Chinese companies appears to be deepening, with sources telling Reuters that the Trump administration is considering extending investment bans to tech giants Alibaba and Tencent.
Shares in both fell more than 4% in Hong Kong and shares in three Chinese telecom firms that the New York Stock Exchange has eventually decided to remove after a week of flip-flopping also fell heavily.
Oil prices hovered near a 10-month high, basking in the afterglow of a production cut promised by Saudi Arabia. Brent crude futures were last up 0.7% to $54.69 a barrel and US crude futures rose 0.9% to $51.07 a barrel.
Gold was steady at $1,917/oz and bitcoin firm after making a fresh record high of $37,785.
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