Stocks hit 2-year high

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    SYDNEY- Asian shares notched a 29-month high on Monday as investors wagered monetary and fiscal policies globally would stay super stimulatory, while an upbeat reading on China’s service sector augured well for continued recovery there.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 percent to reach its highest since March 2018, extending a 2.8 percent gain last week.

    Chinese blue chips firmed 0.7 percent to reach levels not seen since mid-2015. Surveys showed Chinese manufacturing activity edged back a tick to 51.0 in July, but services jumping a full point to 55.2 in a hopeful sign of reviving consumer demand.

    E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 climbed another 0.5 percent, while EUROSTOXX 50 futures added 1 percent.

    Tokyo’s Nikkei rallied 1.9 percent aided by news Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway had bought more than 5 percent stakes in each of the five leading Japanese trading companies.

    The Nikkei had dipped on Friday after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s resignation stirred doubts about future fiscal and monetary stimulus policies.

    Those concerns were eased somewhat by news Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, and a close ally of Abe, would join the race to succeed his boss. A slimmed-down leadership contest is likely around Sept. 13 to 15.

    Attention was now on a host of Federal Reserve officials that are set to speak this week, kicking off with Vice Chair Richard Clarida later Monday as they put more flesh on the bank’s new policy framework

    Fed Chair Jerome Powell boosted stock markets last week by committing to keep inflation at 2 percent on average, allowing prices to run hotter to balance periods when they undershot.

    The risk of higher inflation in the future, assuming the Fed can get it there, was enough to push up longer-term Treasury yields and sharply steepen the yield curve.