Asian stocks grind higher

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    SINGAPORE/BOSTON- Asia’s stock markets followed Wall Street higher on Thursday, as investors returned to tech stocks, gold and selling dollars after steady virus figures and a surprising jump in US inflation boosted sentiment.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 percent, and gains in semiconductor makers drove Japan’s Nikkei 1.9 percent higher to a six-month peak.

    The rises come after a tech rally left the S&P 500 within a whisker of a record closing high overnight, in a climate where even bad news is regarded as good news if it increases the chances of more stimulus to aid recovery.

    “We’d seen value outperforming over the last few days, but that was unwound last night,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Melbourne brokerage Pepperstone, pointing to a drop in US real yields as inflation expectations rose.

    “Maybe that was enough to get people back into the short dollar, long precious metals, long tech trade,” he said.

    Rising fuel costs lifted US consumer prices 0.6 percent last month, compared with expectations for 0.3 percent, leaving core inflation at 1.6 percent for the year to July.

    At the same time, the number of daily new COVID-19 infections in the United States seems to be stabilizing around 55,000. S&P 500 futures traded flat. The bond market was steady after a huge auction and the generally upbeat mood drove selling overnight, with benchmark 10-year US debt yielding 0.6622 percent.

    A softer dollars helped gold rise steadily, adding 1 percent to $1,937 an ounce after whipsawing around $1,900 overnight.

    Australia was the outlier in regional equity markets, with selling of communications giant Telstra after a profit plunge dragging on the index.