Asia stocks edge up on global rally, await China GDP

Asian stocks inched up to near decade highs on Thursday (Oct 19), continuing to ride on a global equities rally, while the US dollar resumed its rise on the back of a spike in US yields.
Asian stocks inched up to near decade highs on Thursday (Oct 19), continuing to ride on a global equities rally, while the US dollar resumed its rise on the back of a spike in US yields.PHOTO: BLOOMBERG

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Asian stocks inched up to near decade highs on Thursday (Oct 19), continuing to ride on a global equities rally, while the US dollar resumed its rise on the back of a spike in US yields.

Trade was cautious, however, as investors waited for third-quarter economic growth data from China at 0200 GMT, which is expected to show its momentum is starting to cool as the government reins in the property market and cracks down on riskier lending.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.05 per cent, nearing a 10-year peak scaled on Tuesday.

Japan's Nikkei rose 0.4 per cent to a fresh 21-year high, while South Korea's Kospi, on a record breaking tear for the past week, nudged up to an historical high and Australian stocks added 0.3 per cent.

The Dow closed above 23,000 for the first time on Wednesday, driven by a jump in IBM after it hinted at a return to revenue growth.

Elsewhere, Germany's DAX had risen to another record high overnight thanks to a soggy euro.

"The surrounding environment continues to favour the broader risk asset markets, with global economies recovering gradually and inflation staying low," said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.

"Potential factors that could impact the markets in the short term are changes to the Federal Reserve's leadership and China's Communist Party conference."

Current Fed Chair Janet Yellen's term expires in February and investors are keen to see who US President Donald Trump will pick as her replacement.

China's twice-a-decade congress kicked off on Wednesday. The focus is on how much power President Xi Jinping can cement, and whether he will use the extra clout to push through with more extensive but potentially risky economic and financial market reforms.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was 0.05 per cent higher at 93.397.

The index has snapped a four-session winning run overnight on lacklustre US data but resumed its climb after the 10-year Treasury yield spiked 4 basis points with safe-haven bond prices falling on better investor risk appetite.

The dollar was steady at 112.930 yen after rising 0.6 per cent overnight. The euro nudged up to $1.1799.

In commodities, Brent crude oil futures was 0.2 per cent higher at US$58.24 per barrel.

Brent had risen to a three-week high of US$58.54 a barrel on Wednesday on worries about tensions in Iraq and Iran but lost steam after a surprising drop in US refining rates and an unexpected build in fuel stocks signalled slower demand in the world's top oil consumer.