TOKYO, Nov 1 2017 : Asian shares looked set to extend their gains into a fourth straight day today on the back of solid economic growth, while oil prices were on a bull run on hopes of an extension of output cuts by major oil producers.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent in early trade while Japan’s Nikkei .N225gained 1.0 percent.
Investors are focused on the progress of a U.S. tax-cut plan being developed by President Donald Trump and fellow Republicans and on Trump’s announcement of the next head of the Federal Reserve. The White House said he will reveal his Fed pick tomorrow.
Tax legislation had been expected today, but sources said Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives will delay the release for a day as lawmakers try to overcome differences involving the treatment of retirement savings accounts and state and local taxes.
Trump’s decision on the Fed chair is upstaging the start of its two-day policy meeting in Washington yesterday, although it is widely expected to leave interest rates unchanged in its statement today.
Trump is likely to pick Fed Governor Jerome Powell, who is seen as more dovish on interest rates and thus relatively stock market friendly, sources have told Reuters.
Expectations that Powell will lead the Fed have helped to drive down U.S. bond yields and the dollar this week.
The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies eased to 94.62 from last week’s three-month peak of 95.15.
The euro EUR= was little moved at $1.1650, though it kept some distance from its three-month low of $1.1574 touched on Friday after the European Central Bank’s stance was perceived to be more dovish than expected.
The dollar fetched 113.76 yen JPY=, off Friday’s high of 114.45 yen.
The biggest mover in today’s early trade was the New Zealand dollarNZD=D4, which jumped 0.7 percent to $0.6893 after the country’s jobless rate sank more than expected to a nine-year low of 4.6 percent.
Bitcoin BTC=BTSP hit another record high after CME Group Inc (CME.O), the world’s largest derivatives exchange operator, said yesterday it will launch a futures contract for bitcoin later this year, marking a major step in the digital currency’s path toward legitimacy.
Brent crude futures hit a two-year high of $61.41 per barrel yesterday and stood at $61.16 per barrel in early Asia trade, up 0.4 percent on the day.
U.S. crude futures held at $54.87 per barrel, near its eight-month high of $54.85 hit yesterday. – Reuters