SYDNEY- Asian shares touched two-year peaks on Thursday in the wake of Wall Street’s record run as cheap cash drove up big-cap tech darlings, although Sino-US tensions caused caution to creep in as the session progressed.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan turned flat after earlier reaching its highest since August 2018.
Japan’s Nikkei eased 0.4 percent from levels not seen since mid-February, and South Korea fell 0.8 percent as a jump in coronavirus cases ended four days of rises.
Even S&P 500 futures dipped 0.2 percent, although that followed five straight sessions of gains.
Asian investors turned more circumspect because of the military face-off in the South China Sea, as Washington blacklisted 24 Chinese companies while Beijing reportedly test fired missiles into the area on Wednesday.
Yet markets globally are still focused on the endless liquidity being pumped out by central banks.
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is expected to outline a more flexible approach to policy on Thursday including a shift to targeting an average inflation rate around 2 percent that will allow rates to stay super-low for longer.
“So with US-China tensions seemingly not a major concern, the deluge of fiscal and monetary support remains the overriding tail wind for risk assets with large cap the beneficiaries,” said Rodrigo Catril, a senior FX strategist at NAB.
The Dow ended Wednesday up 0.3 percent, while the S&P 500 climbed 1.02 percent and the Nasdaq 1.73 percent. Gains were again concentrated in the tech majors with Netflix Inc surging 11.6 percent and Facebook Inc 8.2 percent.
The liquid largesse from central banks has kept sovereign bonds well supported even as stocks reach new highs. Yields on 10-year Treasuries have steadied at 0.68 percent, after finding solid bids around 0.73 percent.