GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian markets step back from stimulus-driven record highs

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian markets step back from stimulus-driven record highs

Reuters  | Jan 22, 2021 10:10

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian markets step back from stimulus-driven record highs

* MSCI ex-Japan tad weaker after hitting record highs on
* Recent rally led by strong hopes of U.S. economic stimulus
* U.S. dollar bounces off lows but set for weekly decline
* Oil, gold weaker

By Swati Pandey
SYDNEY, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Asian shares eased from record
highs on Friday as investors took some money off the table after
a recent rally that was driven by hopes a massive U.S. economic
stimulus plan by incoming President Joe Biden will help temper
the COVID-19 impact.
"The markets had such a strong run yesterday after the
presidential inauguration in the U.S. and the run-up to that,
that the lead coming in from the U.S. is a bit messy," said
Shane Oliver, chief economist at investment manager AMP Capital
in Sydney.
"A lot of the good news is out there. I suspect a fairly
flat day."
MSCI's broadest gauge of Asia Pacific stocks outside of
Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was off 0.2% at 722.49 points, a whisker
away from its all-time high of 727.31 touched on Thursday.
The index has jumped 3.7% so far this week, reflecting
relief over an orderly transition of power in the United States
and strong expectations that U.S. stimulus will provide
continued support for global assets.
Republicans in the U.S. Congress have indicated they are
willing to work with President Joe Biden on his administration's
top priority, a $1.9 trillion U.S. fiscal stimulus plan, though
some are opposed to the price tag. Democrats took control of the U.S. Senate on Wednesday,
though they will still need Republican support to pass the
program. Australia's benchmark index .AXJO was down 0.2% while
Japan's Nikkei .N225 eased 0.4%.
Chinese shares started on the backfoot with the blue-chip
CSI300 index .CSI300 down 0.1% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng
.HSI was off 0.1%.
Overnight on Wall Street, both the S&P 500 .SPX and Nasdaq
Composite .IXIC closed at record highs.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI eased a touch,
falling into negative territory in the final minutes of trading.
In currency markets, the U.S. dollar =USD picked up
against a basket of currencies after three straight days of
losses. It is down 0.7% so far this week.
Against the Japanese yen, the dollar has slipped 0.25% so
far this week. JPY=
The commodity-sensitive Australian dollar AUD=D3 is up
0.6% this week while the euro EUR= has climbed 0.7% in the
The single currency EUR= was flat even as European Central
Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde warned about a renewed
surge in COVID-19 infections and the prospect of prolonged
restrictions that could challenge the region's economic outlook.
The ECB, which kept interest rates steady on Thursday, also
pledged to provide more support for the economy if needed.
The greenback's recent slide has been led by investors
ploughing money into higher-yielding currencies on optimism
about a rapid economic recovery led by massive U.S. stimulus.
Popular cyptocurrency bitcoin BTC= fell to an almost
three-week low on Friday on profit-taking and worries about
extra regulations. In commodities, oil prices slipped after an unexpected
build-up in U.S. crude stockpiles. O/R
Brent LCOc1 was off 23 cents at $55.86 a barrel while U.S.
crude CLc1 inched 26 cents lower to $52.86.
Spot gold XAU= was down 0.2% at 1,865.5 an ounce.

Global assets
Global currencies vs. dollar
Emerging markets
MSCI All Country World Index Market Cap

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