Asian shares climb to three-month high, currencies mark time

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© Reuters. A passerby walks past in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo© Reuters. A passerby walks past in front of a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo

By Swati Pandey

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Asian shares rose to a three-month high on Monday, as risk assets got a fillip from hopes of a trade deal and strong U.S. corporate earnings, while major currencies marked time as focus shifted to a Federal Reserve rate decision.

European shares are expected to edge up, with pan-European Euro Stoxx 50 futures () and German DAX futures () traded up slightly ahead of European trade.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan () added 0.5% for its third straight day of gains to the highest since late July.

Leading the gains were Chinese and Hong Kong shares. The CSI300 () of blue-chip mainland shares were up 0.6% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index () jumped 1.0%.

Japan’s Nikkei () was also upbeat, rising 0.3% to a one-year high.

The gains came after a positive session in U.S. and European markets on Friday.

U.S. and Chinese officials are “close to finalising” some parts of a trade agreement after high-level telephone discussions on Friday, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office and China’s Commerce Ministry said, with talks to continue.

U.S. President Donald Trump has said he hopes to sign the deal with China’s President Xi Jinping next month at a summit in Chile.

The protracted trade war between the world’s largest economies has hurt manufacturing activity, exports and business confidence globally while denting profits of many major industrial firms.

“Up until now, uncertainties from the U.S.-China trade have held companies from spending and hiring. But if they will come to a deal, that will mark a major turning point in economic sentiment,” said Tatsushi Maeno, senior strategist at Okasan Asset Management in Tokyo.

Optimism that Beijing and Washington were finally close to resolving their dispute led the S&P500 () to surpass its July 26 closing record of 3,025.86, though it ended a tad below that level on Friday. The S&P 500’s total return index () posted an all-time high.

E-mini futures for the S&P 500 () started firm on Monday, up 0.15%.

Strong results from companies including Intel (O:) also boosted sentiment in equities markets. More than 81% of U.S. companies have beaten Wall Street expectations so far this earnings season despite concerns about the trade war.

Investors next await earnings from the likes of Alphabet Inc (O:), Apple (O:), Facebook (O:) and Exxon (N:).

Activity later in the week will be dominated by the U.S. Federal Reserve, which markets expect is all but certain to lower interest rates at its Wednesday meeting.

The Bank of Japan meets on Thursday. On Friday, indicators for Chinese and U.S. manufacturing will be released.

“The outcome of the FOMC policy meeting will most likely draw the largest market reaction,” said Richard Grace, Sydney-based chief currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank.

“We also think the risk is the FOMC will articulate a pause,” for future rate decisions, Grace added.

“That means the 27.6% pricing for an additional 25 bps cut in December will quickly evaporate, sending U.S. yields and the USD higher.”

In currencies, the () was flat at 97.817 against a basket of six major currencies. The Japanese yen was little changed at 108.73 to the dollar .

Sterling was last trading at $1.2822, a tad below Friday’s close.

The European Union agreed to London’s request for a Brexit deadline extension but set no new departure date. That gave Britain’s divided parliament time to decide on Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s call for a snap election.

Earlier, sources told Reuters the 27 European Union countries that will remain after Brexit hope to agree on Monday to delay Britain’s divorce until Jan. 31 with an earlier departure possible.

The euro () trod water too at $1.1083.

“It feels like the calm before a potential storm, where the event risk heats up with political twists and turns, key economic data and central bank meetings,” said Chris Weston, Sydney-based strategist at Pepperstone.

Oil prices eased after strong gains last week.

slipped 14 cents to $56.52 a barrel, while edged down 12 cents to $61.90.

quoted at $1,506.3 an ounce.