ECB’s stimulus boost lifts Asian markets, euro wallows near 11-year low

Saturday, 24 January 2015 03:31 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters: Asian stocks extended a global rally on Friday after the European Central Bank launched a landmark bond-buying stimulus program that buoyed investors’ risk appetite, drove bonds higher and left the euro pinned near 11-year lows. Crude oil prices jumped after Saudi Arabia announced that King Abdullah had died and his successor, Salman, moved quickly to name his own heir to rule the world’s biggest oil exporter. U.S. crude rose 94 cents to $47.25 a barrel. The Saudi king’s death added to longer-term uncertainty in energy markets already facing some of the biggest shifts in decades. “The fear of the unknown is going to be supportive to crude oil prices,” said John Kilduff, partner, Again Capital LLC in New York. “King Abdullah was the architect of the current strategy to keep production high and force out smaller players instead of cutting (output),” he added.   The ECB took the ultimate leap into quantitative easing on Thursday, launching a government bond-buying program which will pump hundreds of billions of new money into a sagging euro zone economy. European shares surged, German stocks hit record highs and euro zone bonds rallied, while German government bond yields slid to new record lows. The euro plummeted, bringing parity with the dollar in sight. On Wall Street, the S&P 500 and the Dow each gained 1.5% overnight. Lifted by the global surge in equities, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose to an eight-week high and was last up 0.8%.   Japan’s Nikkei gained 0.9% and Australian and South Korean shares also made sizeable gains. The Indonesian stock index rose to a record high. Market reaction was limited to the HSBC flash PMI which showed China’s manufacturing growth stalling for the second straight month in January. The survey also showed mounting deflationary pressures in China, which could reinforce expectations that authorities there will roll out more stimulus measures. The euro was steady at $1.1361, not far from the 11-year trough of $1.1316 struck overnight. “There isn’t much of a case to be buying the pair at the moment, considering the increasing divergence between the two economies. We have also learnt recently not to fight central banks and this is just another example,” Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note to clients.   The common currency also fell to a three-month low of 134.28 yen. The euro is gearing up for another trial as global markets await snap Greek elections on Jan. 25. A win by the leftist Syriza party, which has pulled ahead on opinion polls, could trigger a standoff with the EU/IMF lenders and drive Greece from the euro zone. The dollar was down 0.2% at 118.31 yen. The greenback was on track to book a 0.6% gain on the week. The Australian dollar briefly fell below 80 U.S. cents for the first time in more than five years. The Aussie has been under pressure as a surprise rate cut by the Bank of Canada this week has raised expectations the Reserve Bank of Australia could soon follow suit.