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Shares in Asia head for 10-year high on back of US profit surge

Shares in Asia have reached their highest point for nearly 10 years bolstered by a surge in stock markets around the world on the back of strong US corporate earnings.

As investors awaited the Japanese and European central bank meetings for clues on their policy outlooks, the MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.15%, hovering near its highest level since December 2007.

In Japan, the Nikkei gained 0.1% to climb closer to a two year high. Australian stocks rose 0.3% and South Korea’s Kospi advanced 0.15%. Hong Kong was up 0.3% while the Shanghai Composite was up 0.2%.

The MSCI world index rose for its tenth straight session on Thursday and set a record high for the sixth consecutive day, lifted by all-time closing highs on Wall Street.

The FTSE100 in London was set to open up around 24 points, or 0.33%, according to futures trading.

“In the US, the earnings season seems to be surprising a little bit on the upside,” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland.

“What we have seen recently in the economic reports suggests it should be even better overseas… So we have come to the point where things look pretty good in the U.S. and it looks even better in prospect overseas, so what’s not to like about equities,” he said.

The yen was marginally stronger at 111.83 to the dollar early on Thursday.

The Bank of Japan ends its two-day policy meeting on Thursday and was expected to paint a brighter picture of the economy but cut its inflation forecasts again. It is set to keep policy unchanged and reinforce that it will lag well behind major global central banks in scaling back its massive stimulus programme.

The euro was up about 0.1% at $1.1528 early on Thursday, after scaling a 14-month high this week following seemingly hawkish comments by European Central Bank president Mario Draghi.

At Thursday’s meeting, the central bank may drop a reference to its readiness to increase the size or duration of its asset-purchase programme before announcing in the autumn how and when it will start winding down its bond buying.

“The euro has surged enormously on the back of hopes that the ECB is going to start the process of shutting the door on loose monetary policy,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at ThinkMarkets UK, wrote in a note.

“The ECB needs to be clear about its forward guidance and it should reinforce that in a subtle manner. Coming out of the gates too aggressively would create shock waves in the market.”

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of trade-weighted peers, was steady at 94.762.

The Australian dollar revisited Wednesday’s two-year high early on Thursday, still heady from the minutes of the last Reserve Bank of Australia meeting, released on Tuesday, which showed the central bank had turned more upbeat on the economic outlook.

The Canadian dollar was flat on Thursday at C$1.2601 to the dollar. On Wednesday, it touched a 14-month high on record domestic factory sales and higher oil prices.

Oil prices, which hit a two-week peak on Wednesday on a bigger-than-expected weekly draw in crude and gasoline inventories in the US, were marginally lower early on Thursday.

U.S. crude fell less than 0.1% to $47.10 a barrel, after jumping 1.6% overnight. Gold rose about 0.1 percent to $1,241.06 an ounce on Thursday.