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Strong fundamentals support Asian shares

Euro, yields up after ECB comments.

Asian shares rose to 2 1/2-month high on Thursday, supported by strong economic fundamentals, while expectations the European Central Bank could start to wind down its stimulus boosted the euro and global bond yields.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2% to extend its gains, hitting a 2-1/2 month high for a second straight day.

Japan’s Nikkei average rose 0.7% to 22790.68 in early trade.

The euro rose to a two-week high, while the 10-year US Treasury yield hit a 1-1/2-week peak on Wednesday, after officials said the European Central Bank could wind down its stimulus program by the end of the year.

Robust growth is making the central bank increasingly confident that inflation is on its way back to target, ECB chief economist Peter Praet said on Wednesday, raising the likelihood it may use a meeting next week to reveal more about the end of its bond-buying program.

Praet’s comments sent the euro to $1.1796, its highest level since May 22, on Wednesday. The common currency was last up 0.1% at $1.1781. The dollar index was down 0.1% to 93.565.

Worries over the effects of reduced ECB bond buying triggered a broad sell-off in German Bunds and other European government debt, which spilled over to Treasuries, analysts said.

The yield on Germany’s benchmark 10-year bond rose, while the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield was up nearly 6 basis points at 2.975% after touching a 1-1/2 week high.

Higher yields helped to lift S&P 500 financials, which rose 1.8% and were the biggest percentage gainer among S&P 500 sectors.

“The US 10 year Treasury yield rose alongside its eurozone peers overnight, while US stocks rallied, reflecting a risk-on attitude among investors,” said Makoto Noji, senior FX/bond strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said late on Wednesday that US President Donald Trump will meet French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the G7 summit this week. Although Kudlow said Trump would not back down from the tough line he has taken on trade, the comments appeared to calm investors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.4% to 25 146.39, the S&P 500 gained 0.86% to 2 772.35 and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.67% to hit its record closing high of 7 689.24.

Oil prices fell on fears of rising global supply after US inventories rose unexpectedly and Saudi Arabia and other big producers signalled they may raise production.

US light crude settled 1.2% lower at $64.73 a barrel on Wednesday. The prices have bounced back since, with the WTI gaining 0.7% to $65.15.

Gold prices were steady, with spot gold little changed at $1 297.60 per ounce.

India’s central bank (RBI) raised its policy rate for the first time in more than four years on Wednesday, but surprised some economists by keeping its stance “neutral” instead of changing it to “tighten”.

Market participants also eyed the G7 summit later this week and US-North Korea summit scheduled for next week.

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