By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian equities got some welcome relief on Wednesday after upbeat U.S. earnings reports drove a rebound on Wall Street and helped restore a little faith in emerging market stocks and currencies.
Japan’s Nikkei galloped out of the gates with a rise of 1.7 percent, but still has a long way to go to recoup the past week’s losses.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.7 percent and South Korea 1.2 percent. Chinese blue chips, however, lagged with a gain of only 0.2 percent.
U.S. stocks had jumped more than 2 percent on Tuesday in reaction to upbeat earnings reports from major companies including UnitedHealth and Goldman Sachs.
“Analysts are looking at this reporting season in particular and the general data over the next couple of months for signs that the receding tailwinds of fiscal stimulus and the headwinds of tariffs are going to hit the U.S. market simultaneously,” said Rakuten Securities Australia COO, Nick Twidale.
“On first viewing this doesn’t appear to be happening.”
On Wall Street, the three major indexes tallied their biggest one-day percentage gains since March. The Dow jumped 2.17 percent, while the S&P 500 climbed 2.15 percent and the Nasdaq 2.89 percent. [.N]
Netflix Inc shot 12 percent higher after the close as its results far outstripped market expectations with 7 million streaming customers added.
The blockbuster outcome sent shares of Alphabet Inc, Facebook Inc and Amazon.com Inc up about 1 percent in extended trade.
The four make up the so-called FANG group of high-growth companies that in recent months has lost some of its momentum following market-leading gains in recent years.
The U.S. economic news was also robust, notably a sharp rise in job openings to a fresh all-time high.
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All this cheer favored beaten-down currencies in emerging markets while taking some steam out of the safe-haven yen. The MSCI Emerging Market Currency Index rose for a third straight session.
The latest survey of global fund managers by BofA Merrill Lynch found they saw emerging market currencies as the most undervalued ever against the U.S. dollar.
The dollar itself was up on the yen at 112.35 but flat on the euro at $1.1570. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar idled at 95.123 having touched a two-week trough overnight.
Not helping the dollar was fresh criticism of the Federal Reserve from U.S. President Donald Trump, who told Fox Business Network: “My biggest threat is the Fed.”
Trump has recently castigated the central bank for raising interest rates.
“While such name calling shouldn’t mean anything in terms of what the Fed actually does, it is a factor which somewhat undermines sentiment towards the dollar,” said Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at NAB.
“It’s a contributory factor, albeit minor, to recent poor performance of the U.S. dollar.”
Minutes of the last Fed meeting are due out later Wednesday are expected to show policy makers remain committed to further gradual tightening.
In commodity markets, gold held near recent 11-week highs at $1,223.18.
Oil prices edged up as industry data showed a surprise decline in U.S. crude inventories. There was also a risk that crude supply from the Middle East could be disrupted by looming U.S. sanctions on Iran and growing tensions with top exporter Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has been under pressure since prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi disappeared after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.
U.S. crude rose 8 cents to $72.00, while Brent crude added 2 cents to $81.43 a barrel.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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