Asian shares hit 18-month top in festive cheer; oil, gold hold gains

Asian shares jumped to an 18-month high on Friday (Dec 27) while gold and oil prices stayed buoyant in a holiday-shortened week, as investor optimism was boosted by hopes a US-China trade deal would soon be signed.

Traders returned from their Christmas and Boxing Day break to digest comments from Beijing that it was in close contact with Washington about an initial trade agreement, shortly after US President Donald Trump talked up a signing ceremony for the recently struck Phase 1 trade deal.

Asian Shares

  • MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan jumped 0.55 per cent to 555.25, a level not seen since mid-2018. It is up about 16 per cent so far this year.
  • Japan’s Nikkei was flat, but on track for a near 20 per cent rise this year, biggest annual increase since 2013.
  • Australia’s benchmark index rose 0.2 per cent while Chinese shares were upbeat after Beijing laid out additional plans to bolster its economy, including infrastructure investments.
  • The blue-chip CSI300 added 0.56 per cent.

Currency Markets

  • The US dollar was a tad weaker against the Japanese yen at 109.47.
  • The dollar index was barely changed against a basket of six major currencies, with the euro up a notch and the British pound mostly flat.
  • The rally in oil and gold boosted commodity-linked currencies in the past 24 hours with the New Zealand dollar up 0.6 per cent and the Australian dollar up 0.3 per cent.

Oil Prices

Both oil and gold held on to their recent gains.

  • Brent has rallied about 25 per cent in 2019, supported by supply cuts by OPEC and allies including Russia.
  • Gold prices were a bit shy of a two-month high at US$1,509.29 an ounce.

Source: Reuters

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