Monday November 6, 2017
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US President Donald Trump ramped up his tough rhetoric against North Korea as he kicked off a 12-day Asian trip yesterday, saying the United States and its allies are prepared to defend freedom. — Reuters picUS President Donald Trump ramped up his tough rhetoric against North Korea as he kicked off a 12-day Asian trip yesterday, saying the United States and its allies are prepared to defend freedom. — Reuters picSYDNEY, Nov 6 — Asian shares hovered near decade highs today as strong US economic data and corporate earnings supported global stocks while major currencies held in tight ranges as investors focussed on US President Donald Trump’s tour of Asia this week.

Trump ramped up his tough rhetoric against North Korea as he kicked off a 12-day Asian trip yesterday, saying the United States and its allies are prepared to defend freedom.

The US president wants a united front with the leaders of Japan and South Korea before he visits Beijing to make the case to Chinese President Xi Jinping that more needs to be done to rein in Pyongyang. Trump also plans to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin during his trip.

While investors were on edge about the outcome of these high-stake meetings, sentiment has generally been buoyed by upbeat economic data in the United States.

“Global growth is a mature theme, and notably, we have seen real improvement in Europe, while in the US the data is humming along nicely,” said Chris Weston, senior market strategist at I.G. Markets.

US non-manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose to its highest level since 2005, figures out on Friday showed. New orders for US-made goods gained for the second straight month in September and orders for core capital goods surpassed expectations.

“The wash-up after all the data flow was a further belief that the US Federal Reserve can lift rates in December,” said Weston.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was a touch softer at 556.39, but within striking distance of Friday’s top of 557.93 which was the highest since November 2007.

Australian shares traded around levels not seen since April 2015 at 5,956.90 points while Japan’s Nikkei advanced further to a 21-year peak.

Wall Street had a field day again on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.1 per cent, the S&P 500 gaining 0.31 per cent and the Nasdaq adding 0.74 per cent.

Apple Inc gave the biggest boost to each of the three indexes after its stronger-than-expected results on Thursday.

Long queues formed outside the company’s stores in Asia and Europe on Friday as fans flocked to buy the new iPhone X, and the US company moved closer to a US$1 trillion (RM4.2 trillion) market capitalisation.

US tax reform is also going to be a focus with the House Ways and Means Committee allowing amendments to the bill from today, while the Senate is expected to release its own version of the bill on Wednesday.

The degree of differences between the two bills will set the tone in terms of tax reform expectations.

The dollar index, which measures the US dollar against a basket of currencies, held near four-month highs, while the euro trod water to loiter around its lowest since July.

Oil rose to the highest in more than two years after US rig data suggested drilling in the United States would throttle back.

Brent futures were up 24 cents at US$62.31 a barrel, the highest since July 2015. US crude added 16 cents to 55.80.

Spot gold was steady at US$1269.61 an ounce. — Reuters

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