By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares looked to end the month on a firm note on Monday in a week littered with major economic releases, central bank meetings and earnings updates from mega caps Amazon and Apple, though rising Japanese bond yields posed a risk.
China surveys were mixed with factory activity just pipping forecasts but services disappointing, though both merely reinforced expectations that Beijing would have to launch larger stimulus at some point.
Chinese blue chips seemed unperturbed and added 1.6%, bringing gains for July to 5.6%.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 1.1%, having gained almost 6% so far in July to reach a five-month high.
The initial impetus for markets was positive following Friday’s U.S. data showing an easing in wage costs and core inflation, which fuelled hopes the Federal Reserve was done tightening.
“The data surprises bolster confidence that global core inflation – ex. China – will fall sharply and set the stage for a developed market central bank policy pause and emerging market easing even if growth remains firm,” said Bruce Kasman, head of economic research at JPMorgan.
Figures due this week include the U.S. ISM surveys on manufacturing and services, the July payrolls report and European inflation.
The Bank of England is widely expected to raise rates by at least a quarter point, but markets are more divided on whether the Reserve Bank of Australia will hike or stay on hold.
Almost 30% of the S&P 500 report results this week and so far, earnings have been good enough to see the index extend its rally to 10% since the start of June.
S&P 500 futures added another 0.1% on Monday, bringing its gains for July to almost 3%, with Nasdaq futures near flat.
Apple Inc and Amazon.com both report on Thursday, while other well-known names with results due include Western Digital Corp, Caterpillar Inc, Starbucks Corp, and Advanced Micro Devices.
PARSING THE BOJ
Japan’s Nikkei rose 1.8% to re-take the 33,000 level and nudge closer to its recent three-decade peak.
Investors are still pondering the implications of Friday’s shock decision by the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to lift the lid on bond yields, in a step away from its ultra-easy policies.
Analysts at BofA estimate the BOJ’s bond buying added $1.3 trillion to global liquidity in the past 18 months and provided a low floor for global rates, so any sustained rise in Japanese government bond yields could ripple though other bond markets.
Japanese 10-year yields climbed further to 0.6% on Monday, still short of the new cap of 1.0%.
While the yen had initially rallied on the BOJ move, it soon reversed course as investors still seemed happy to run carry trades, or yen-funded positions in higher-yielding currencies.
“Friday’s action might best be viewed as an attempt to head off a fresh wave of yen-weakening carry trade activity, by at least ceasing to resist pressure for 10-year yields to rise above 0.5%,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank.
“Friday’s actions do, though, fail to provide a catalyst for a secular reversal of yen weakness.”
The yen was again under pressure on Monday as the dollar pushed up to 141.55 yen, a long way from Friday’s brief low of 138.05.
The euro had also recovered from its initial pullback to stand at 155.97 yen, while steadying at $1.1020 after some wild swings last week.
In commodities, gold was off a shade at $1,957 an ounce, having gained around 2% for the month so far. [GOL/]
Oil prices took a breather, having for five weeks in a row as production cuts by OPEC+ tightened supply. [O/R]
Brent was off 14 cents at $84.85 a barrel, while U.S. crude eased 3 cents to $80.55.
(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Jamie Freed)