Asia shares hit 2008 highs, dollar in decline on Fed inflation view

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Stocks, bonds and commodities were all on a roll in Asia on Thursday as bulls scented a softening in the Federal Reserve’s confidence on inflation that promised to keep U.S. interest rates low for longer.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS climbed 0.5 percent to heights not seen since January 2008. It has gained nearly 5 percent so far this month.

South Korea .KS11 added 0.6 percent and Australia 0.2 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei .N225 was kept flat by a firmer yen.

The latest rush for risk came after the Fed left U.S. rates unmoved as expected on Thursday but the market seized on tweaks in its wording on inflation.

It noted that both overall and core inflation had declined and removed the qualifier “recently”, perhaps suggesting concerns the slowdown might not be temporary.

The Fed also said it expected to start winding down its massive holdings of bonds “relatively soon”, cementing expectations of a September start.

While that would be an effective tightening in financial conditions it might also lessen the need for actual hikes in rates, which matter more for currency valuations.

“The dollar’s biggest problem is it can’t expect help from the Fed for a long time,” said Alan Ruskin, global head of forex at Deutsche.

“In the short-term we are still in a risk-favorable loop, whereby subdued goods and services inflation supports a well behaved bond market and asset inflation. It’s just another day in paradise.”

A Reuters poll showed most primary dealers, the banks authorized to trade directly with the Fed, still see the Fed’s next rate rise in December. But Fed funds rate futures are pricing in less than 50 percent chance of a hike by then, compared to more than 50 percent before the Fed’s meeting.

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Dollar Breaks Lower

Yields on U.S. 10-year debt duly fell 5 basis points and were last at 2.28 percent US10YT=RR.

The dollar followed, falling to a 13-month trough against a basket of currencies at 93.370 .DXY. It was last down around 0.2 percent at 93.444.

The euro, which had been bumping up against a 23-month top for most of the week, finally broke through to reach $1.1742 EUR=, its highest since January, 2015.

The next major chart target was the 200-week average at $1.1807 – a measure the euro has not traded above since August 2014.

Indeed, the dollar was fast approaching the 200-week barrier on both the Canadian CAD= and Australian dollars AUD= and breaks would be technically bearish.

The dollar even fall back on the yen to 111.04 JPY=, though the damage was limited by expectations the Bank of Japan would keep its super-easy policies in place longer than most other global central banks.

The prospect of U.S. policy staying stimulative saw Wall Street’s fear gauge touch a record low .VIX. The Dow .DJI ended Wednesday up 0.45 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX added 0.03 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 0.16 percent.

Telecoms .SPLRCL was the best performer, propelled by a 5.0 percent gain in AT&T (T.N) after its results. Boeing (BA.N) soared 9.9 percent after beating estimates and Amazon’s (AMZN.O) market worth topped $500 billion for the first time.

The declining U.S. dollar boosted commodities priced in the currency. Spot gold XAU= hit a six-week high and was last trading at $1,262.45, while copper CMUC3 reached territory not trod since May 2015. [MET/L]

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Oil prices neared eight-week highs as a surprisingly sharp drop in U.S. inventories encouraged speculation a global crude glut would recede. [O/R]

A bout of profit-taking in early Asia on Thursday saw Brent crude futures LCOc1 ease 11 cents to $50.86 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 dipped 9 cents to $48.66.

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