Asian shares extend rally, U.S. earnings to test optimism

Markets brace for U.S. earnings season

  
An investor checks stock information on her mobile phone in front of a board at a brokerage office in Beijing, China July 6, 2018. Image used for illustrative purpose.

An investor checks stock information on her mobile phone in front of a board at a brokerage office in Beijing, China July 6, 2018. Image used for illustrative purpose.

REUTERS/Jason Lee

SYDNEY: Asian shares crept toward five-month peaks on Monday as investors wagered the U.S. earnings season would see most companies beat forecasts given expectations had been lowered so far by coronavirus lockdowns.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.15%, having climbed sharply last week on the back of surging Chinese stocks, which added another 1% on Monday.

Japan's Nikkei gained 1.7% and South Korea 1.2%. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 ESc1 rose 0.5% even as some U.S. states reported record new cases of COVID-19, a divergence that shows no sign of stopping.

EUROSTOXX 50 futures STXEc1 added 1.1% and FTSE futures FFIc1 0.8%.

"Ongoing grim U.S. COVID-19 infection news continues to be summarily ignored in favour of ongoing optimism regarding the time-line for the discovery and rapid roll-out of an effective vaccine and/or more policy support for asset prices and the U.S. economy," said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at NAB.

"JP Morgan, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo all report on Tuesday and there's a view that the bar has been set pretty low for them to report the almost obligatory 'better than expected' results - the absence of forward guidance from many firms notwithstanding."

Wednesday sees Goldman Sachs and Bank of NY report, while Thursday has Netflix and Morgan Stanley.

While bank shares rose sharply on Friday they have been badly lagging technology stocks, with analysts at Bank of America noting tech outperformance in the past six months was greatest since the 1999 tech bubble and the 2008 global financial crisis.

If the S&P 500 was just "tech, health care, Amazon, Google" the index would now be 4,173, they wrote in a note, way above the current level of 3,185. If made up of everything else, it would be 2,924.

"Central banks are crushing rate expectations, forcing risk-taking in credit markets," they added.

Yields on U.S. 10-year notes came close to record lows last week at 0.569% and were last at 0.63%.

Super-low rates have in turn been a boon for non-yielding gold which hit a near nine-year high after five straight weeks of gains. The metal was last at $1,803 an ounce, just off a $1,817.17 top.

The hunt for yield has tended to benefit emerging market currencies and those leveraged to commodities such as the Australian dollar, while weighing on the U.S dollar.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was off at 96.585 on Monday and not far from the June trough of 95.714. The dollar was a fraction softer on the yen at 106.88, while the euro held at $1.1309.

Oil prices eased in early trade, although that followed a sharp rise on Friday when the International Energy Agency (IEA) bumped up its 2020 demand forecast. 

Brent crude LCOc1 futures dipped 41 cents to $42.83 a barrel, while U.S. crude CLc1 lost 40 cents to $40.15.

(Reporting by Wayne Cole; editing by Richard Pullin) ((Wayne.Cole@thomsonreuters.com; 612 9321 8162; Reuters Messaging: wayne.cole.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

((To read Reuters Markets and Finance news, click on https://www.reuters.com/finance/markets For the state of play of Asian stock markets please click on: 0#.INDEXA ))

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