Shares surge


    SYDNEY- Asian stocks camped out at 18-month peaks having climbed for five straight sessions, while the British pound was licking fresh wounds as revived Brexit fears came back to bite it.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.1 percent to its highest since June last year. Japan’s Nikkei dipped 0.3 percent and off a 2019 top.

    Shanghai blue chips added 0.3 percent, after hitting an eight-month peak on Tuesday, as Beijing trimmed another short-term interest rate.

    E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were little changed, while EUROSTOXX 50 futures fell 0.1 percent.

    Upbeat economic news had helped the S&P 500 reach a record for the fourth straight session, building on its 27 percent gain this year. The Dow ended Tuesday up 0.19 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 0.07 percent and the Nasdaq 0.11 percent.

    US housing starts were surprisingly strong in November, and building permits rose to the highest level since May 2007. Manufacturing output picked up more than expected as a strike at General Motors Co ended.

    A run of better data recently has helped calm fears of recession while the “phase one” Sino-US deal on trade seems to have lifted some of the uncertainty on the global outlook.

    The sea change was clear in BofA Global Research’s latest survey of fund managers with recession concerns diving 33 percentage points to a net 68 percent of investors saying a recession is now unlikely in 2020.

    Global growth expectations jumped 22 percentage points, marking the biggest 2-month rise on record. As a result, funds’ allocation to global equities climbed 10 percentage points to a net 31 percent overweight, the highest level in a year.

    Yet it might be too soon to declare an all-clear on the political front with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson upsetting markets by taking a hard line on Brexit talks.

    Johnson will use the prospect of a Brexit cliff-edge at the end of 2020 to demand the EU give him a comprehensive free trade deal in less than 11 months. – Reuters