Asian stocks hit 7-month peak

    132

    SYDNEY- Asian shares climbed to a seven-month peak on Wednesday tracking the S&P 500, which scaled all-time highs driven by ever expanding policy stimulus aimed at cushioning the blow to economies from the coronavirus pandemic.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside of Japan rose 0.3 percent, up for a third straight day to 570.80 points, a level not seen since late January.

    The gains were driven by Australian shares, up 0.8 percent and South Korea, which added 0.6 percent. Japan’s Nikkei nudged up too though Chinese shares started weaker with the blue-chip CSI300 index off 0.7 percent.

    Overnight, both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite set records soon after the opening bell following strong sales growth reported by major US retailers including Walmart, Kohl’s and Home Depot.

    The closely-watched S&P 500 topped an all-time peak reached in February just before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic drove the benchmark index to lows on March 23. The index has surged about 55 percent since then.

    At just 126 days, that “is the fastest bear market recovery ever,” said Tapas Strickland, economist at Melbourne-based National Australia Bank.

    Nasdaq clocked its 18th record closing high since early June.

    The US Federal Reserve’s intervention in financial markets to maintain liquidity in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic has pushed risk assets to all-time highs and reduced demand for safe-havens, weakening the greenback.

    Gold flirted with key charted resistance of $2,000 an ounce to be last at $1,998.

    US gold futures were a shade weaker at $2,005.2.