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World shares hit fresh peaks

·3-min read

World stocks have hit fresh record highs on growing bets that the US Federal Reserve will push back tapering its bond purchases and keep its expansive policy for the near-term.

European shares dipped in early trading after Monday gains, however, with the STOXX 600 regional index down 0.1 per cent but still close to their lifetime peak, hit in August.

The MSCI world equity index was up 0.1 per cent by 0746 GMT and looked set for its eighth consecutive day of gains to record highs, while stock futures pointed to a positive open on Wall Street after the long Labour Day weekend.

"Now that the tapering announcement from the Fed in September seems unlikely, we should expect 'Goldilocks' markets to continue to at least October or November," said Masahiko Loo, portfolio manager at AllianceBernstein.

The latest rally, which started after Fed Chair Jerome Powell's dovish speech at the Jackson Hole Symposium in August, received a further boost from a surprisingly soft US payrolls report on Friday.

The US economy created 235,000 jobs in August, the fewest in seven months as hiring in the leisure and hospitality sectors stalled, reducing expectations that the Fed will opt for an early tapering of its monthly bond purchases.

Japanese shares rallied further on hopes the ruling Liberal Democratic Party will offer additional economic stimulus and easily win an upcoming general election after unpopular Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said he would quit.

Tokyo's Nikkei soared 0.9 per cent, also helped by an announcement on its reshuffle, and the broader Topix index climbed 1.1 per cent to a 31-year high.

Mainland Chinese shares extended gains, with the Shanghai Composite rising 1.5 per cent to its highest since February, helped by Chinese trade data showing both exports and imports grew much faster than expected in August.

"The mood is improving on hopes the government will take measures to support the economy and that the monetary environment will be kept accommodative," said Wang Shenshen, senior strategist at Mizuho Securities.

In the currency market, the euro rose 0.1 per cent to $1.188, a tad below Friday's one-month peak but still well-supported ahead of the European Central Bank's policy meeting on Thursday.

The ECB is seen debating a cut in stimulus with analysts expecting purchases under the ECB's Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) falling possibly as low as 60 billion euros a month from the current 80 billion euros.

ING strategist Chris Turner said Friday's soft US jobs report and dovish comments last month by Powell have taken "some of the sting out of the dollar's upside".

"Even the unloved EUR has found a few friends over recent weeks as hawks on the ECB demand a reassessment of pandemic support levels," he noted.

The Australian dollar briefly rose after the central bank went ahead with its planned tapering of bond purchases, but quickly gave up those gains after the bank reiterated its need to see sustainably higher inflation to raise interest rates.

The Aussie was last 0.1 per cent lower at $0.7431, off its 1-1/2-month high set on Friday.

Oil prices were mixed after Saudi Arabia's sharp cuts to crude contract prices for Asia revived concerns over the demand outlook.

Brent crude futures rose 0.2 per cent to $72.4 per barrel, while US crude futures fell 0.5 per cent to $68.9.

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