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Asian stocks up on dovish ECB as Biden signs stimulus

Economy1 hour ago (Mar 12, 2021 01:10AM ET)

(C) Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a stock quotation board at a brokerage in Tokyo

By Andrew Galbraith

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Asian shares rose on Friday after U.S. President Joe Biden signed a $1.9 trillion stimulus bill into law, and after a dovish European Central Bank meeting prompted a retreat in bond yields and eased global concerns about rising inflation.

But European shares, which had jumped on Thursday’s ECB meeting, looked set to retreat from a one-year peak a day later. Pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures were down 0.03% and both German DAX futures and FTSE futures were down about 0.2% in early deals.

Biden signed the stimulus legislation ahead of a televised address in which he pledged aggressive action to speed vaccinations and move the country closer to normality by July 4.

The signing of the American Rescue Plan provided a further boost to market sentiment after the European Central Bank said it was ready to accelerate money-printing to keep a lid on borrowing costs, using its 1.85 trillion euro Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) more generously over the coming months to stop any unwarranted rise in debt financing costs.

That and a better-than-expected U.S. government bond auction could support a rally in tech stocks and a rotation between growth and value stocks in the next few weeks, said Cliff Zhao, chief strategist at China Construction Bank (OTC:CICHF) International in Hong Kong.

“But in the second quarter the market still (will be) very volatile, and especially when we look at the U.S. dollar it’s much stronger than expectations around the end of last year. So I think the strong U.S. dollar may weigh on some liquidity conditions in the emerging markets,” he said.

MSCI’s broadest gauge index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.53%, supported by tech gains.

Seoul’s KOSPI added 1.39%, Taiwan shares were up 0.27% and Australia’s ASX 200 gained 0.79%.

Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.58%, and China’s blue-chip CSI300 index inched up 0.05% as sagging high-valuation tech and consumer firms capped gains.

U.S. Treasury yields were higher on Friday, with the 10-year yield at 1.5512% after falling to 1.475% overnight, its first foray below 1.5% in a week.

The German 10-year yield was last at -0.331% after hitting a three-week low of -0.367%.

“There might be some disappointment (the ECB) didn’t expand their bond purchase program but that’s largely offset by undertakings to accelerate the purchases,” said Michael McCarthy, chief markets strategist at CMC Markets.

On Wall Street, easing inflation worries helped support equities. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.58% and the S&P 500 gained 1.04%, both to record highs. The Nasdaq Composite added 2.52%.

Sentiment was also boosted by weekly jobless claims data, which pointed to a recovering U.S. labor market as vaccine rollouts helped lead to economic reopenings.

Analysts largely expect inflation to pick up as vaccine rollouts lead to a reopening, but worries persist that Biden’s stimulus package could overheat the economy.

The dollar gained 0.22% against the yen to 108.73 and the euro fell 0.18% on the day to $1.1963. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, rose 0.14% to 91.568.

Oil prices retreated from sharp gains as the dollar firmed, with U.S. crude dipping 0.41% to $65.75 a barrel. Brent crude lost 0.27% to $69.44 per barrel.

Spot gold prices fell 0.22% to $1,717.70 an ounce.

Asian stocks up on dovish ECB as Biden signs stimulus

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