Most markets rise in Asia, with central bank meetings in focus
A pedestrian walks past an electronic quotation board displaying share prices of the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo. AFP
Asian markets mostly rose Tuesday as traders bided their time ahead of key central bank meetings this week that are expected to see officials begin withdrawing their vast pandemic-era financial support, while keeping a wary eye on inflation and supply chain snarls.
Another record close on Wall Street provided a fruitful lead thanks to a strong earnings season that has seen the vast majority of companies beat expectations despite concerns about the impact of surging input costs and spiking Covid infections in the third quarter.
Hong Kong was among the best performers in early business Tuesday, helped by a surge in tech companies, which were enjoying some bargain-buying after a torrid year that has seen China tighten its grip on the sector.
Property giant China Evergrande's payment of interest on a second overdue bond before a weekend deadline provided an extra lift and slightly eased fears about an imminent collapse.
The Hang Seng Index climbed more than 1.5 percent, as did Seoul, while there were also advances in Shanghai, Singapore, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta.
Tokyo dipped after soaring more than two percent on Monday, with Sydney and Wellington also slightly lower.
And, while there are concerns about slowing global growth, analysts remain buoyant about the outlook for markets.
"We are now in the midst of an early 'January effect' and I expect that this will continue through Thanksgiving," said markets strategist Louis Navellier.
"However, December is also a seasonally strong month and January is typically stronger, so we have three months of seasonal strength to look forward to.
"In the meantime, we are still in the midst of wave after wave of better than expected third-quarter earnings announcements, so enjoy the ride."
Attention now turns to central banks' policy meetings, with officials from the United States, Britain and Australia among those making decisions this week.
With several countries already starting to lift interest rates, traders are now preparing for the end of the cheap cash era, which has helped propel markets to record or multi-year highs.
While the Bank of England and Reserve Bank of Australia will be closely watched, the Federal Reserve's gathering is the main focus of attention. US authorities are forecast to start tapering their bond-buying programme this month but observers said the board's timeline on raising borrowing costs will be top of the agenda.
The main focus of the meeting "will be much more on the Fed's inflation stance than tapering", Steve Englander, of Standard Chartered Bank, said.
"The elephant in the room is headline and underlying inflation, which are higher than the (Fed policy board) was anticipating."
The release of US employment figures on Friday will also be followed for a fresh idea about the impact of inflation and Covid infections on the jobs market.
Key figures around 0230 GMT
Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.2 percent at 29,580.49 (break)
Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 1.7 percent at 25,571.05
Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.3 percent at 3,554.34
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.96 from 114.00 yen at 2020 GMT
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3652 from $1.3658
Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1597 from $1.1604
Euro/pound: DOWN at 84.93 pence from 84.96 pence
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.2 percent at $84.24
Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $84.97 per barrel
New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 35,913.84 (close)
London - FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 7,288.62 (close)