Asian shares nudge higher in defensive trade, dollar soft


Asian shares edged higher on Wednesday as investors shrugged off concerns that stocks may have rallied too far too fast in the past year, and focused instead on optimism that more imminent U.S. stimulus will energise the global economic recovery.

Australian shares gained 0.45% in early trade while E-mini S&P futures were up 0.2%.

Wall Street had retreated overnight after beginning March with a bang, with the S&P 500 staging its best one-day rally in nine months on Monday.

But some analysts warned that worries that stock prices may be frothy, a fear echoed by a top Chinese regulatory official on Tuesday, may make it harder for equity markets to hang on to gains. Fears that last week’s sell-off in U.S. Treasuries, which rattled stock markets, could resume may also put a lid on stock prices, they said.

”While markets have stabilised…, the tone remains tenuous as investors continue to fear a further sell-off in rates,” analysts at TD Securities said in a note.

The cautious mood weighed on the U.S. dollar, which has benefited in recent days from investor hopes that the United States will enjoy a faster economic recovery, and that the U.S. central bank will be more tolerant of higher bond yields.

The U.S. dollar index fell 0.22% against a basket of major currencies to 90.815.

A softer dollar supported the euro, which was steady at $ 1.20840.

Dollar weakness also gave a fillip to dollar-denominated gold, with spot gold bouncing off lows to be steady at $ 1,736.1600 per ounce.

Benchmark U.S. government bond yields dipped again for the third consecutive day as investors paused a recent sell-off ahead of a slew of U.S. economic data that will be released later this week. The yield on 10-year Treasury notes stood at 1.3982%, down from last week’s high of 1.614%.

The U.S. stock market was roiled last week when benchmark yields spiked to a one-year high on investor bets that a strong U.S. economic rebound amid ultra-loose monetary conditions could fuel inflation.

U.S. Federal Reserve officials have said that inflation concerns are premature, however, and warned that rising yields could tighten financial conditions and constrain an economic recovery.

Oil prices were soft after hitting a two-week low overnight on expectations that OPEC+ producers will ease supply curbs at their meeting later this week as economies start to recover from the coronavirus crisis.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was down 0.57% at $ 59.41 a barrel, while Brent futures fell 1.68% to $ 62.62 a barrel.

The general note of caution in markets also weighed on bitcoin, which was down 2.6% at $ 48,361.49.