SYDNEY (REUTERS) - Asian shares neared decade peaks on Tuesday (Aug 8) thanks to optimism on the global economy and a rash of records on Wall Street, while major currencies were becalmed ahead of Chinese trade data.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2 per cent and to within a whisker of its recent high.
South Korea's market rose 0.4 per cent while in Japan, the broad TOPIX held near its highest in two years and the Nikkei was flat.
The main event in Asia will be trade figures from China which are forecast to show further strength in both exports and imports, likely whipping up more froth in commodity prices.
Ratings agency Fitch this week lifted its outlook for global growth for this year and next.
"The revisions are led by emerging markets and China in particular, whose recovery has been more pronounced than anticipated," said Fitch chief economist Brian Coulton. "Data continue to suggest a synchronised global expansion across both advanced and emerging market economies. Spill-overs from the rebound in emerging market demand are reflected in the fastest growth in world trade since 2010."
On Wall Street, the Dow rose 0.12 per cent, while the S&P 500 added 0.16 per cent and the Nasdaq 0.51 per cent. The Dow has risen 10 sessions in a row and three more would match the all-time winning streak in January 1987.
Volumes were light as the news flow dried up with the US Congress and President Donald Trump on vacation and a bumper profit season drawing to a close.
"Earnings have been strong, liquidity is abundant and the message from corporate CEO's around the world was loud and clear," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at broker IG. "They are not concerned with Trump, geopolitics or trade restrictions, they see earnings growth as the main game in town and equity investors are aligned with this outlook."
He noted customers' cash holdings at investment manager Charles Schwab were historically low at just 11.5 per cent of assets. "Traders and investors are all in on this market." The same factors were spurring demand for a range of industrial commodities.
Copper hit two-year peaks on Monday, while Chinese rebar steel futures surged as much as 7 per cent to their highest in more than four years.
Currencies were quieter as the US dollar tried to keep a grip on the gains made after upbeat US jobs data last week. Traders are now awaiting US inflation data later in the week.
Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was a fraction lower at 93.406 and still not far from the recent 15-month trough of 92.548.
The euro was little changed at US$1.0797 as was the dollar against the yen at 110.75.
Oil prices dipped as a rebound in production from Libya's largest oil field prompted selling and investors worried about higher output from Opec and the United States.
Officials from a joint Opec and non-Opec technical committee are meeting in Abu Dhabi to discuss ways to boost compliance with the deal to cut 1.8 million barrels per day in production.
Brent crude futures eased 15 cents to US$52.22 a barrel, while US crude futures lost 9 cents to US$49.32 per barrel.