Asian markets rose Monday following records on Wall Street last week on hopes that President Donald Trump’s tax reforms would breathe new life into the US economy.
Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq ended at records, with investors buoyed by expectations of strong earnings ahead of the third-quarter corporate reporting season, which kicks off in about two weeks.
European equities also closed the week higher, with Frankfurt gaining 1.0 percent and London and Paris both up by 0.7 percent.
“Stock market euphoria rages on propelled by tax cuts and perhaps a misguided belief that history will repeat itself as equity markets have risen seven times in the last eight years between October and December,” said Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA.
“But traders will continue to be vigilant as they search the news tickers for headline clues as to who the next Fed Chair will be, and how the tax reform process is going,” he added.
Trump has said he will decide on whether to replace Janet Yellen as Fed chair in the next two to three weeks.
The US leader’s economic agenda has been hobbled as the White House has become embroiled in a host of crises, from allegations of Russian interference in the American presidential election to Trump’s failed attempt to repeal health care legislation.
The latest tax cut proposals are also expected to face a tough time in Congress, with leaders in both parties likely to raise questions about how the reform will be paid for.
The reform includes a push for the US corporate tax rate to be slashed from 35 to 20 percent — below the 22.5 average of industrialised nations — with no details of how the cuts will be funded.
But investors have sought reassurance in the apparent cooperation between Trump and Republican congressional leaders on the tax proposals, in contrast to his failed bid to repeal Obamacare.
– Japan confidence up –
In Tokyo, the benchmark Nikkei 225 index ended the morning with only modest gains of 0.1 percent, despite business confidence hitting its highest level in a decade according to the Bank of Japan’s Tankan survey.
The strong Tankan figures, which beat estimates by a good margin, “should encourage investors to pick up … individual shares that are expected to report good results” in their half-year earnings reports due this month, said Yoshihiro Ito, chief strategist at Okasan Online Securities.
But worries over a national election later this month were weighing on the market, analysts said, with an upstart party led by the popular Governor of Tokyo seen making inroads into Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s majority.
Shares in Nissan fell by as much as 5.38 percent in early trade, after news emerged that thousands of its vehicles had been inspected by uncertified employees.
The automaker said late Friday that it would temporarily halt some vehicle registrations in Japan.
The dollar fetched 112.82 yen in early Asian trade, up from 112.52 yen in New York on Friday.
Hong Kong and Shanghai were closed for a public holiday, while South Korea’s benchmark index gained 0.9 percent and Singapore added 0.6 percent.
– Key figures around 0245 GMT –
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.1 percent at 20,376.90 (break)
Euro/dollar: DOWN at 1.1779 from $1.1818
Dollar/yen: UP at 112.82 from 112.52 yen
Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3371 from $1.3398
Oil – West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 14 cents at $51.53 per barrel
Oil – Brent North Sea: UP 13 cents at $57.54 per barrel
New York – DOW: UP 0.1 percent at 22,405.09 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 7,372.76 (close)