Asian shares rise to three-month highs, dollar waits for Fed

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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 extended gains on Monday to hit a three-month high as risk assets got a fillip from hopes of a U.S.-China trade deal as soon as next month while the dollar marked time as focus shifts to a U.S. rate decision.

In early Asian trades, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan () added 0.3% for its third straight day of gains to 518.29, the highest since late July.

Chinese shares were a tad firmer with the blue-chip CSI 300 () up 0.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index () jumped 0.7% while Australian shares climbed 0.1%.

Japan’s Nikkei () was also upbeat, rising 0.3% to a decade 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.

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 0.1%.

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 a shade firmer at 97.866 against a basket of six major currencies. The Japanese yen was 0.1% lower at 108.75.

Sterling was last trading at $1.2816, 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 $1.1077.

“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 7 cents to $56.59 a barrel, while edged down 5 cents to $61.97.

quoted at $1,504.92 an ounce.