Asia markets track Wall St records, dollar under pressure

Hong Kong (AFP) –


Asian markets extended their latest rally on Thursday following across-the-board records on Wall Street where traders were buoyed by another day of strong earnings.

Better-than-forecast results from New York titans IBM and American Express helped to fuel a buying spree and allowed investors to look past the crises engulfing Donald Trump and his stalled legislative agenda.

All three major indexes ended at all-time highs, which provided a platform for Asia.

By the break Japan's Nikkei was up 0.4 percent, while Sydney added 0.4 percent and Seoul was 0.1 percent higher.

Shanghai edged up 0.1 percent and Hong Kong also added 0.1 percent to extend a rally into its eighth straight day.

But while investors are upbeat about the corporate outlook Trump's travails, along with stuttering indicators including on inflation, are keeping the dollar at multi-month lows.

Hopes are quickly fading for the tycoon's promises to boost the economy -- which had fuelled a global rally after his November election -- as the collapse of his key health care reforms this week throw his tax-cutting, big-spending plans into doubt.

The dollar enjoyed some small gains on profit-taking against its major peers in US trade but was back under pressure Thursday as investors await policy meetings at the Bank of Japan and European Central Bank

"Neither is expected to shift interest rates but the importance of the accompanying statements is underlined by recent currency moves," said Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets, in a commentary.

The euro had surged to a near 15-month high of $1.1583 Tuesday before dipping later in the day.

ECB chief Mario Draghi's post-meeting statement will be pored over as an improving eurozone economy feeds speculation that the bank will start to soon reel in the vast stimulus measures.

Before that, BoJ is due to make a statement, with expectations low for any big announcement as policymakers struggle to fire the world's number-three economy.

As most other central banks around the world consider tightening monetary policy the yen has fallen against key currencies with the euro up more than 10 percent from its 2017 lows and the pound around seven percent higher.

- Key figures around 0230 GMT -

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.4 percent at 20,092.14 (break)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.1 percent at 26,696.69

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 3,232.53

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1524 from $1.1513 at 2100 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3030 from $1.3021

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 111.83 from 111.84 yen

Oil - West Texas Intermediate: UP five cents at $47.17 per barrel

Oil - Brent North Sea: FLAT at $49.70 per barrel

New York - DOW: UP 0.3 percent at 21,640.75 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.6 percent at 7,430.91 (close)