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Asian markets build on blistering start to year

by January 9, 2018 General

Asian markets mostly rose on Tuesday with Hong Kong edging up for an eleventh straight trading day as investors press on with a global rally that has the region enjoy its best start to a year since 2006.

Wall Street provided yet another record lead as eyes turn to the beginning of the corporate earnings season, with sentiment buoyed by strong economic readings and hopes that Donald Trump’s tax cuts will help fire up profits.

“This environment of strong global growth and contained inflation is actually a great environment for Asian equities, including tech,” Ajay Kapur, head of Asia Pacific and global emerging market strategy at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Hong Kong, told Bloomberg TV.

Hong Kong rose 0.3 percent, marking its best run of gains since 2012, while Shanghai added 0.2 percent.

Sydney rose 0.2 percent, Singapore climbed 0.3 percent.

Seoul was up 0.1 percent despite a two percent drop in market heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which was hit after its forecast for record fourth-quarter profits missed expectations.

Tokyo finished the morning up 0.5 percent as traders returned from a long weekend break.

There were also gains in Manila and Kuala Lumpur but Wellington and Taipei slipped.

However, while markets continue to push ever higher, there are worries the advances this week could be petering out, and there are also warnings of a sharp correction on the horizon.

Oil extends gains

The dollar held on to its gains against major peers, consolidating its recent mini-rebound with the euro unable to make inroads despite data showing eurozone economic sentiment at its highest since 2000.

However, with Trump’s tax cuts already built in and the European Central Bank expected to begin winding down its stimulus, analysts say the greenback will likely face further pressure from the single currency down the line.

On oil markets, both main contracts continued their positive start to the year as major producer Iran is hit by unrest and Venezuela’s economy remains depressed.

“Protest in Iran, and decreasing US crude inventories are providing a stable floor on WTI,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA, said in a note.

He added that while a severe freeze in the northeast of the US would boost demand for heating oil, the temperatures were keeping drivers off the road.

However, he said: “With geopolitical risk extending from Tehran to Venezuela’s economic demise, the market remains on a bullish tack.”

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 23,843.70 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 30,981.26

Shanghai – Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,415.21

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1960 from $1.1967 at 2200 GMT

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3562 from $1.3567

Dollar/yen: UP 112.60 yen from 113.08 yen

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 44 cents at $62.17 per barrel

Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 37 cents at $68.15 per barrel

New York – DOW: DOWN 0.1 percent at 25,283.00 (close)

London – FTSE 100: DOWN 0.4 percent at 7,696.51 (close)