By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks struck record highs on Thursday, with a rally by Wall Street supporting bullish investor sentiment, while the dollar pulled back from three-year lows as comments by European Central Bank officials tempered the euro’s recent rally.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan () rose 0.2 percent, building on the previous day’s gains to make a fresh peak.
Australian stocks () were flat, South Korea’s KOSPI () added 0.2 percent and Japan’s Nikkei () was last up 0.4 percent after reaching its highest level since late 1991.
Shanghai () rose 0.4 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng () advanced 0.4 percent.
U.S. stocks jumped on Wednesday and the Dow () closed above 26,000 for the first time as investors’ expectations for higher earnings lifted stocks across sectors. ()
Optimism over prospects for sustained strong global growth and improved corporate earning shave helped share markets rally at the start of 2018.
“Events related to North Korea pose potential risks, but there are very few factors holding equities back at the moment,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.
“And bullish U.S. stocks, higher Treasury yields and signs of the euro’s recent surge running its course are all dollar-supportive factors,” Ishikawa said.
Near-term market focus was on China’s gross domestic product data due at 0700 GMT. Analysts polled by Reuters expect the world’s second-largest economy to have grown 6.7 percent in the October-December quarter from a year earlier, slowing from a rise of 6.8 percent in the previous quarter.
“The downward trend is clear. We expect investment to come under pressure this year but we are relatively optimistic about consumption and exports,” said Li Huiyong, an economist at Shenwan Hongyuan Securities in Shanghai.
The against a basket of six major currencies () was 0.4 percent higher at 90.878 after pulling back overnight from a three-year low of 90.279 set earlier in the week.
The euro was little changed at $ 1.2188
The dollar was steady at 111.310 yen
The Australian dollar dipped slightly to $ 0.7959
The two-year Treasury yield () hovered near a nine-year high of 2.051 percent reached on Wednesday on expectations the Federal Reserve will continue to tighten monetary policy this year.
In commodities, crude oil prices extended gains on data showing a decline in U.S. crude inventories. [O/R]
Brent crude futures () rose 0.15 percent to $ 69.50 a barrel. On Monday, they hit a three-year high of $ 70.37.
U.S. crude futures () were 0.4 percent higher at $ 64.21 per barrel.
Despite the gains, many analysts are warning that the recent oil price rally may lose momentum.
“We reckon that the upside is now limited for oil prices. U.S. shale oil output will increase by a good 111,000 barrels per day (bpd) next month to 10 million bpd, and will rise to about 11 million bpd by the end of next year,” said Fawad Razaqzada, market analyst at future brokerage Forex.com.
“This would put the U.S. on par with Saudi Arabia and Russia’s output,” Razaqzada said.