By Kevin Buckland and Matt Scuffham
TOKYO/NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks extended their rebound from a two-month low on Thursday after a report on U.S. consumer prices calmed concerns about inflation and lifted the Dow Jones Industrial Average to a record close.
An index of regional stocks excluding Japan rose 0.7%, led by a 1.7% surge in South Korea’s Kospi, and was on track for its first three-day advance in three weeks.
China’s Shanghai Composite rallied 1.6%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 gained 0.5%.
“The reflation trade is back on,” said Michael McCarthy, chief markets strategist at CMC Markets.
“We saw bonds and stocks rallying together and a slight easing in the U.S. dollar, which also indicates improving sentiment.”
The U.S. Labor Department said its consumer price index rose 0.4% in February, in line with expectations, after a 0.3% increase in January. Core CPI, which excludes volatile food and energy components, edged up 0.1%, just shy of the 0.2% estimate.
While analysts largely expect a hike in inflation as vaccine rollouts lead to a reopening of the economy, worries persist that additional stimulus in the form of a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package set to be signed by U.S. President Joe Biden could overheat the economy.
The House of Representatives gave final approval on Wednesday to the bill, one of the largest economic stimulus measures in U.S. history.
Benchmark 10-year notes last yielded 1.5317%, stabilising from lows of 1.5060% overnight following an auction of benchmark 10-year notes that was not as bad as feared.
Investors will now eye an auction of 30-year debt on Thursday, seeking to cover massive shorts. A weak seven-year auction in late February helped fuel inflation concerns and sent yields higher.
“Rises in U.S. bond yields appear to have subsided a bit after the 10-year yield has reached 1.5%, even though many investors remain cautious before the Fed’s policy meeting,” said Naoya Oshikubo, senior economist at Sumitomo Mitsui (NYSE:SMFG) Trust Asset Management.
“The Fed has ratcheted up its rhetoric on bond yields lately. The reality is, the economy is in a K-shaped recovery, with the service sector still in difficult conditions and the Fed would probably not want to let real interest rates rise.”
The fall in the 10-year yield after the auction wasn’t enough to help the tech-heavy Nasdaq, which lagged both the Dow and the S&P 500 after its strong move on Tuesday, as investors stayed with names expected to benefit from the economic reopening like financials.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.45% to a record closing high, the S&P 500 gained 0.60% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.04%.
E-mini futures for the S&P 500 were largely flat on Thursday in Asia.
Europe’s main index hovered near pre-pandemic highs.
MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.27%.
Gold held near a one-week high reached Wednesday as U.S. Treasury yields eased.
Spot gold prices rose 0.2% to $1,729.62 an ounce.
The dollar moved lower following the economic data, and remained weaker in Asian trading.
The dollar index slipped to 91.776, following a 0.2% drop overnight.
The euro stood at $1.1932 while the safe-haven yen eased slightly to 108.52 per dollar.
Oil prices resumed their climb following two days of declines, after the Energy Information Administration reported a bigger-than-expected storage build.
U.S. crude futures stood at $64.95 per barrel, up 50 cents or 0.78%. Brent crude futures were at $68.38 per barrel, up 48 cents or 0.71%.