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Asia shares hit 15-month high as traders wait for CPI


By Tom Westbrook

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian shares hovered around 15-month highs on Tuesday and the dollar was firm ahead of highly anticipated U.S. inflation data, while Japanese bonds were squeezed as the central bank pulled back a little on its bond buying programme.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed slightly and hit its highest since early 2023 in morning trade, as a strong rally in Hong Kong shares extended into a fourth consecutive week. (HK)

Japan’s Nikkei was flat. Benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yields rose one basis point to 0.95%, the highest yield since November, and five-year Japanese yields hit 0.555%, the highest since 2011. [JP/]

World stocks and the S&P 500 were steady overnight, poised just below record peaks. A survey released on Monday by the New York Fed showed Americans see inflation a year from now at 3.3%, higher than they did a month earlier, and later on Tuesday U.S. producer price figures will be closely watched.

Alibaba (NYSE:BABA) will most likely report results later on Tuesday.

The main focus this week is on Wednesday’s actual U.S. CPI figures, to see whether some upside surprises in the first quarter were a blip or a worrying trend. Expectations are for core CPI to slow from an annual 3.8% in March to 3.6% for April.

“This would be good, but not enough to confirm Fed easing plans in (the third quarter),” Bob Savage, head of markets strategy and insights at BNY Mellon (NYSE:BK), said in a note to clients.

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In the currency market, nerves and the inflation expectation survey were enough to keep the dollar from falling. Dollar/yen hit its highest since the start of the month, when traders reckoned Japanese authorities were intervening to buy yen.

The yen traded as soft as 156.4 to the dollar. The euro was steady at $1.0786 and the Australian and New Zealand dollars kept to recent ranges, the Aussie at $0.6606 and kiwi at $0.6015.


In China, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index is up 30% from January’s lows and has surged nearly 20% in a month.

News and data in recent days included a third straight monthly rise in consumer prices, better than expected imports data, record low credit growth and marketing of a trillion yuan in long-data special treasury bonds.

Investors see positive demand signals and signs that as monetary policy is reaching its limits, and with borrowers shy, authorities are planning to spend to support growth.

“Walking through the recent policy announcements, including the expansion of stock connect and encouraging leading enterprises to list in Hong Kong, it is hard not to come to the conclusion that top management in China intends to reinstate Hong Kong’s role as an IPO hub,” said OCBC analysts.

In New Zealand, inflation expectations have dropped, data published on Monday showed, and construction supplier Fletcher Building cut its outlook, citing a housing slowdown.

Fletcher’s Australia-listed shares hit a two-decade low on Tuesday. Australia’s government is expected to boast another surplus in its annual budget due on Tuesday.

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Shares in bellwether Australian automotive equipment seller GUD leapt 9% after it forecast meeting expectations.

In Japan, the central bank announced its first cut to bond buying operations since December on Monday – a surprise hawkish signal to investors that drove selling in the market.

Two-year Japanese yields were untraded early on Tuesday but hit their highest since 2009. U.S. Treasuries were steady in Asia trade to leave 10-year yields at 4.49% and two-year yields at 4.86%. [US/]

The so-called meme stocks, which swung wildly after finding popularity in retail trading blogs and social media posts, leapt to life overnight after user “Roaring Kitty”, credited with sparking the 2021 frenzy, returned to post on X.com.

Videogame store operator GameStop (NYSE:GME) rose 74%. Oil and gold were broadly steady with Brent crude futures at $83.40 a barrel and spot gold at $2,339 an ounce.

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