The U.S. dollar held near 14-year peaks on Wednesday as global yield spreads moved inexorably in its favour, while a falling yen lifted Japanese shares to a one-year top. U.S. crude futures were up 32 cents at 53.62 dollars a barrel, while benchmark Brent crude futures added 26 cents to 55.61 dollars.

The Nikkei added 0.3 per cent in thin trade, while Australia’s main index climbed 0.6 percent to its highest in 17 months after Wall Street racked up more records. Japan’s government upgraded its overall assessment of the economy on Wednesday,echoing a more upbeat view from the Bank of Japan’s delivered the day before. The dollar index, which measures it against a basket of currencies, stood at 103.100 having touched 103.65, its highest since December 2002.


The euro was a fraction firmer at 1.0413 dollars. On Wall Street, the Dow ended just 25 points shy of the magical 20,000 barrier helped by a 1.68 per cent gain in Goldman Sachs. Stocks have been on a tear since the Nov. 8 presidential election, with the Dow up nine per cent and the S&P 500 6 percent on bets that President- elect Donald Trump’s plans for deregulation and infrastructure spending might boost profits and growth. The Dow rose 0.46 per cent on Tuesday, while the S&P 500 gained 0.36 per cent and the Nasdaq0.49 per cent. Eight of the 11 major S&P sectors rose, led by a 1.23 per cent jump in the financial index.

After the bell, Nike rose 3 per cent on a strong quarterly report from the sports apparel seller. European shares scaled 11-month highs on Tuesday as Italy’s banking index rose 2.3 per cent after the government decided to seek parliamentary approval to borrow 20 billion euros to underwrite the stability of its banks. Emerging markets have not been nearly as thrilled by Trump’s win, as the threat of tariffs has stirred fears of a trade war while rising U.S. yields have attracted funds away. Benchmark 10-year U.S yields have climbed almost 80 basis points since early November to reach 2.57 per cent.

Data from the Institute for International Finance showed non-resident investors had pulled 23 billion dollars from emerging market portfolios since early October. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched up 0.3 per cent on Wednesday, but that followed a string of losses. Gold held at 1,133.80 dollars an ounce as a firm U.S. dollar kept it pinned near last week’s 10-1/2-month low of 1,122.35 dollars. (Reuters/NAN)

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