Asia stocks near decade highs on buoyant Wall Street

Asia stocks hovered near a decade high on Nov 9 following another record breaking day on Wall Street.
Asia stocks hovered near a decade high on Nov 9 following another record breaking day on Wall Street. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Asia stocks hovered near a decade high on Thursday (Nov 9) following another record breaking day on Wall Street, while the New Zealand dollar rallied as hawkish-sounding statements by the country's central bank boosted the recently battered currency.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up a fraction and in close reach of a 10-year high set the previous day.

Australian shares rose 0.2 per cent and to their highest level since January 2008 while South Korea's KOSPI stood flat.

Japan's Nikkei climbed 1.1 per cent, reaching a high not seen since January 1992.

Wall Street rose overnight thanks to a rally by videogame makers, with all three major indexes closing at record highs.

"It is a case of equity markets in emerging economies, already firm on internal demand and growth, being lifted by gains in those of developed economies," said Kota Hirayama, senior economist at SMBC Nikko Securities in Tokyo.

"Each country obviously has its own particular factors affecting local markets, but US equities continue to drive overall risk sentiment."

In currencies, the New Zealand dollar was a big mover, surging about 1 per cent to a two-week high of US$0.6974.

The kiwi flew after the Reserve Bank of New Zealand (RBNZ) said early on Thursday that added fiscal stimulus and a lower local dollar would lead to faster inflation and likely an earlier rise in interest rate.

The central bank held rates steady at 1.75 per cent as widely expected.

The New Zealand dollar had sunk to a five-month low of US$0.6818 in late October as a change in government unsettled investors.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was steady at 94.899.

The greenback edged up 0.1 per cent to 113.975 yen, pulling away from a one-week low of 113.395 plumbed overnight, as long-term US yields bounced back from three-week troughs.

The euro was little changed at US$1.1593 and in sight of a 3½-month low of US$1.1553 set at the week's start.

US crude oil futures was up 0.05 per cent at US$56.85 a barrel.

Government data showing a rise in domestic crude production had weighed on oil overnight but rising tensions in the Middle East limited the losses.

US crude rose slightly to US$57.92 on Wednesday as tension flared between Saudi Arabia and Iran, while the Saudi crown prince tightened his grip on power.

Spot gold was little changed at US$1,281.13 an ounce.

The precious metal had risen to a three-week high of US$1,287.13 an ounce the previous day as a potential delay in the US tax reform plan was seen moderating the Federal Reserve's interest rate hikes next year and support non-yielding gold.