By Wayne Cole | SYDNEY
Japanese shares hit a six-month top on Tuesday as the dollar advanced on the yen, while risk sentiment got a lift after factory surveys in the United States and Europe boasted the best readings of the year so far.
There were also tentative hopes rising prices for steel and some industrial commodities – zinc surged to a five-year peak and iron ore reached its highest since mid-2014 – could pick up the pulse of inflation globally.
Japan’s Nikkei .N225 rose 0.7 percent to levels last seen in April as a softening yen burnished the outlook for the country’s exporters. Australian stocks added 0.6 percent and Taiwan .TWII 0.7 percent.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS ticked 0.1 percent firmer, as did EMini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1. Spread betters tipped moderate opening gains for European bourses.
South Korea’s main index .KS11 slipped 0.5 percent after data showed Samsung Electronics’ (005930.KS) decision to scrap its Galaxy Note 7 dragged on the entire economy in the third quarter, though growth still pipped forecasts.
Over one third of U.S. companies have now reported and 80 percent have beaten market expectations. Another third of the S&P 500 components are scheduled to report earnings this week, including heavyweights Apple (AAPL.O), Alphabet (GOOGL.O), Amazon (AMZN.O) and Boeing (BA.N).
Merger and acquisition activity added extra fizz in the wake of AT&T Inc’s (T.N) $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner Inc (TWX.N), though the deal seemed destined to face stringent scrutiny from regulators.
DOLLAR IN DEMAND
Aiding risk sentiment was the Markit survey of U.S. manufacturing which climbed to a one-year top of 53.2.
Business activity in the euro zone expanded at the fastest pace this year so far in October and firms raised prices at the sharpest rate in more than five years.
The better news led investors to nudge up the probability of a December rate hike from the Federal Reserve to around 74 percent <0#FF:> and pressured Treasury prices.
It also lifted the U.S. dollar to a nine-month high against a basket of major currencies at 98.846 .DXY. The dollar firmed on the yen to 104.43 JPY=, threatening the month’s peak at 104.62, while the euro struggled at $1.0878 EUR=.
One mover was the Canadian dollar which rebounded from a seven-month low after Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz said the decision on whether to cut interest rates again was not one to take lightly.
The comments countered recent speculation about an imminent easing and nudged the U.S. dollar down to C$1.3333 CAD=D4 from a peak at C$1.3398.
In commodities, oil prices dipped on news of the impending restart of Britain’s Buzzard oilfield and Iraq’s wish to be exempted from OPEC production cuts.
Brent LCOc1 was down 9 cents at $51.37 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 also lost 2 cents to $50.50.
Going the other way was iron ore, with Chinese iron ore futures reaching their highest since August 2014.
Coal prices also reached new peaks after weeks of gains, a prop for the Australian dollar AUD=D4as the two commodities are the country’s biggest export earners.
(Reporting by Wayne Cole; Editing by Eric Meijer and Joseph Radford)