Asian shares rise as risk assets shine, Australian central bank eyed


Asian shares are poised to rally on Tuesday as a halt in a recent bond markets sell-off calmed investor nerves and lifted riskier assets, although oil prices were on the defensive on fears of slowing Chinese energy consumption.

Australian shares jumped 0.8% in early trade, while E-mini S&P futures climbed 0.15%. Japan’s Nikkei opened 0.93% higher.

U.S. stocks had surged overnight, with the S&P 500 posting its best day in nearly nine months, after a retreat in bond yields and optimism about more U.S. fiscal stimulus and a wider distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine whetted investor appetites for risk.

For now, all eyes will be on Australia’s central bank, which holds its monthly policy meeting on Tuesday. Analysts expect the Reserve Bank of Australia to hold key rates at a historic low of 0.1% when it announces its policy decision at 0330 GMT.

”There’s everything to like about the rally in EU and U.S. equity markets,” said Chris Weston, the head of research at Pepperstone Group Ltd in Australia.

”Financials outperformed, with 95% of stocks in the S&P 500 gaining on the day,” he said, adding that ”clearly investors are seeing the world in a new light”.

U.S. stocks were roiled last week when a sell-off in Treasuries pushed the 10-year Treasury yield to a one-year high of 1.614%. The 10-year yield was edging lower in early trade at 1.4255%.

Demand for riskier assets did not slug the dollar, usually regarded as a safe-haven currency, as investors bet on fast growth and inflation in the United States. The U.S. dollar index gained 0.3% in early trade against a basket of currencies to stand at 91.029, within sight of a three-week high hit overnight.

The Australian dollar was little changed at $ 0.77685 ahead of the RBA meeting.

A stronger dollar weighed on gold, and the precious metal was on the defensive at $ 1,722.8879 an ounce early Tuesday.

The exuberance in risk assets did not help energy markets. Oil prices fell more than 1% overnight after data showed China’s factory activity growth slipped to a nine-month low in February, owing in part to disruptions over the Lunar New Year holiday. There were also fears among energy investors that OPEC may increase global supply following a meeting this week.

Brent crude fell 1.7% to $ 63.31 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude lost 0.6% to $ 60.3.