Asian shares rise on relief over US debt ceiling deal, euro eyes ECB
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares ticked up on Thursday after US President Donald Trump and congressional leaders agreed to raise the government debt limit until December, eliminating the risk of a government shutdown for now.
The euro maintained this week’s slim gains ahead of the European Central Bank’s policy event later in the day while oil prices were supported after US Gulf Coast refineries reopened. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.3 percent while Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.6 percent.
In New York the previous day, the S&P 500 gained 7.69 points, or 0.31 percent, led by gains in energy sector on the back of rise in oil prices.
Trump forged a surprising deal with Democrats in Congress to raise the US debt limit and provide government funding until Dec. 15, embracing his political adversaries and blindsiding fellow Republicans in a rare bipartisan accord.
“The deadline on debt ceiling has been extended just by three months so it will come back to haunt markets again later this year. Still, markets liked it as we don’t have to worry about it for now,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management.
The news also helped to lift US Treasuries yields, with the 10-year yield rising back to 2.101 percent US10YT=RR from its 10-month low of 2.054 percent touched earlier on Wednesday.
Still, geopolitical tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme continued to cast a shadow, particularly in Japan and South Korea.
The news that Fed Vice Chair Stanley Fischer will resign “for personal reasons” reminded investors of the wobbly state of the US administration after many high-ranking officials have quit less than a year into their jobs.
The recovery in risk appetite helped the dollar bounce back to 109.24 yen from Wednesday’s low of 108.45 yen.
The main focus of the day is the euro, which stood at $1.1925 ahead of the ECB’s policy meeting, maintaining its uptrend since the start of this year.
ECB President Mario Draghi is expected to lay the groundwork for stimulus reduction, though few investors expect a clear framework just yet.
But some participants are worried that Draghi may warn against the strength of the euro which has risen 13 percent so far this year, the strongest performance among major currencies.
The Canadian dollar held firm following 1.2 percent gains on Wednesday after the Bank of Canada unexpectedly raised interest rates.
The Canadian dollar traded at C$1.2230 to the dollar, off Wednesday’s high of C$1.2140 per US dollar, which was its highest since June 2015.
Oil prices maintained much of this week’s strong gains as high global refining margins and the reopening of US Gulf Coast refineries improved the outlook after the sharp falls caused by Hurricane Harvey.
US crude futures CLc1 were $49.12 per barrel, down 0.1 percent from late US levels after having gained 3.0 percent in the previous three sessions.
Brent LCOc1 traded at $54.03 a barrel, down 0.3 percent but still not far from its 3 1/2-month high of $54.31 touched on Wednesday.
Traders are now shifting their focus to Hurricane Irma, ranked as one of the five most powerful Atlantic hurricanes in the last 80 years, which was passing over the northernmost Virgin Islands on Wednesday afternoon and expected to reach Florida at the weekend.