Asian shares creep ahead after US tech stocks rally, STI up 1%

A businessman walks past a share prices board illustrating various world stock markets in Tokyo on Oct 9, 2015.
A businessman walks past a share prices board illustrating various world stock markets in Tokyo on Oct 9, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Asian share markets crept ahead on Tuesday (Nov 3) after the benchmark for UStech stocks hit its highest in 15 years, while a holiday in Japan kept currencies tethered within recent tight ranges.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan firmed 1.1 per cent after losing ground for five straight sessions. Australian stocks bounced 1.2 per cent, recouping a little ground after a vicious run of selling.

Singapore's Straits Times Indexwas up 1 per cent at 3,004.11 as of 11:18 am.

In China, the CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen was all but flat.

Wall Street had boasted gains across all sectors, led by increases in the beaten-down energy group and the acquisition-driven healthcare industry.

The Dow ended Monday with gains of 0.94 per cent, while the S&P 500 added 1.19 per cent and the Nasdaq rose 1.45 per cent to its highest close since 2000.

While data showed US manufacturing activity ticked lower for a fourth month, a rise in new orders offered hope for better times ahead. Also, construction spending rose in September to the highest in 7-1/2 years.

In contrast, government bonds were pressured by improving economic data in Europe and comments from European Central Bank officials that cast doubt on the need for more stimulus.

Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said the ECB was right to consider stepping up its bond buying to boost inflation but had to think very carefully before doing so.

That pushed up yields across the euro zone while yields on US 10-year Treasuries reached their highest in five weeks at 2.189 per cent.

Activity was much lighter in currencies where investors are awaiting clarity on whether the Federal Reserve will start hiking rates in December.

The US dollar index was barely changed at 96.908 after drifting between 96.635 and 96.965. The euro was hemmed in a tight US$1.1000-US$1.1053 range and last stood at US$1.1013.

Against the yen, the greenback was equally restrained at 120.70.

The Australian dollar held at US$0.7167 ahead of the outcome of a central bank policy meeting today that could deliver the first rate cut since May.

A majority of analysts polled by Reuters doubt the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will ease this week, and the market has been slowly lengthening the odds of a move.

In commodities, oil has been weighed by the prospect of weak Chinese demand and record-high Russian production.

Brent was off a cent at US$48.78 a barrel, while U.S. crude clawed back 6 cents to US$46.22 a barrel.