Asia shares edge ahead, US crude tops $70

Published: May 07, 2018 11:37:28 | Updated: May 09, 2018 10:58:19


A visitor is seen as market prices are reflected in a glass window at the Tokyo Stock Exchange (TSE) in Tokyo, Japan, February 6, 2018. Reuters/File Photo

Asian shares crept higher on Monday after a tame reading on US wages lowered the risk of faster rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, although Sino-US trade tensions and a looming deadline for the Iranian nuclear deal argued for caution.

Oil prices hit their highest in more than three years as global supplies remained tight and the market awaited news from Washington on possible new US sanctions against Iran.

President Donald Trump has set a May 12 deadline for Europeans to “fix” the deal with Iran over its nuclear program or he would refuse to extend US sanctions relief for the oil-producing Islamic Republic.

Brent crude futures LCOc1 added 31 cents to $75.18 a barrel, while US crude CLc1 climbed 44 cents to $70.16 to finally crack the $70 barrier.

The week ahead also has important readings on the health of the Chinese economy, and hence global demand, as well as the latest data on US consumer price inflation.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS put on 0.3 per cent, while Chinese blue chips .CSI300 rose 0.7 per cent.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 .ESc1 also inched up 0.25 per cent. Japan's Nikkei .N225 went the other way as a firmer yen trimmed 0.4 per cent off the index.

Friday’s US jobs report showed unemployment dropping to a new cycle low of 3.9 per cent yet wages remained benign, suggesting the Federal Reserve would keep raising rates but at a gradual pace.

That outlook cheered Wall Street where the Dow .DJI ended Friday up 1.39 per cent, while the S&P 500 .SPX rose 1.28 per cent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 1.71 per cent.

Apple Inc hit a record high after Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc disclosed that it had raised its stake in the iPhone maker.

The recent run of solid US economic news contrasts with a softer turn in European data and lifted the dollar to its highest for the year so far against the euro.

The single currency was last at $1.1973 EUR=D4, having been down as deep as $1.1911 on Friday. The dollar also reached its highest since December against a basket of currencies and was last trading at 92.463 .DXY.

It had less luck against the Japanese yen, in part because strains in emerging market currencies were supporting safe havens such as the yen. The dollar eased off to 108.89 JPY=EBS, having topped out around 110.05 last week.

“It’s this recovery in the US dollar – one based on the data flow in the US against the rest of the world – which is catching many by surprise and causing ructions across emerging markets,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader.

Markets from Argentina to Turkey have been under intense pressure, in part because many of these countries have large amounts of US dollar debt which gets more expensive to finance as the currency rises, according to Reuters.

A firming US dollar has also been negative for some commodities, with gold falling for a third straight week before bouncing slightly on Monday to $1,318.16 an ounce XAU=.

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