Asian shares hovered near eight-month highs on Thursday as investors bet the Bank of England will cut interest rates to ward off the risk of recession following Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.
Financial spreadbetters and futures also pointed to a higher open for European stock markets, though U.S. S&P futures were slightly lower.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 percent, hovering near the highest level since November it reached on Wednesday. Japan’s Nikkei closed up almost 1 percent, helped by a weaker yen.
The Japanese currency, which slid 3.9 percent over the first three days of this week, dropped a further 0.8 percent to 105.33 to the dollar after Bloomberg reported former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke had floated the idea of perpetual bonds during discussions with one of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s advisers in April.
Abe called for fiscal stimulus, expected to reach about 2 percent of GDP, following his election victory on Sunday.
Chinese stocks, however, were lower, with the CSI 300 index and the Shanghai Composite both slipping 0.4 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.2 percent.
U.S. stocks ticked up on Wednesday, just enough for the S&P 500 and Dow industrials to set record highs, with investors expecting upbeat earnings to keep the rally going.
Wall Street shares have quickly recovered the losses triggered by Britain’s vote on June 23 to leave the European Union, driven by solid U.S. economic data.
“Brexit doesn’t mean a breakdown of the global financial system after all, nor a major slowdown in the economies outside the UK,” said Koichi Yoshikawa, executive director of finance at Standard Chartered Bank in Tokyo.
“Investor activity is slowing down after June 24 but uncertainty is gradually easing.”
Concerns that Brexit could disrupt European economies have effectively taken a Federal Reserve rate hike off the agenda in the near future, and boosted expectations of more monetary stimulus from central banks from Europe to Japan.
Financial markets expect the Bank of England to announce a rate cut later on Thursday. Governor Mark Carney has hinted he may ease policy to cushion the economy from the Brexit shock.
The British pound extended gains to 0.8 percent to $1.3258 on Thursday. Sterling climbed to this week’s high of $1.3340 on Wednesday as political uncertainty eased following the appointment of Theresa May as prime minister.
But it ended the day down 1.4 percent from that peak after May named leading Brexit supporters to key positions in her new government, including former London mayor Boris Johnson as foreign secretary, and attention shifted toward a possible BOE rate cut.
“The Brexit vote appears to be having a psychological effect as informal measures of consumer confidence have already fallen precipitously,” David Lafferty, chief market strategist at Natixis Global Asset Management, wrote in a note.
“Having argued that Brexit may lead to recession, it may be difficult for (Carney) to justify postponing a rate cut.”
The euro was stuck in its familiar range and last stood up 0.2 percent at $1.1115.
While the European Central Bank is expected to keep policy on hold at its meeting next week, the euro’s overnight index swaps were pricing in further rate cuts over coming months. .
Oil prices bounced back after losses of over 4 percent on Wednesday that erased most of the previous session’s gains, as a run of bearish U.S. inventory data heightened concerns about a global glut.
Global benchmark Brent crude futures gained 0.9 percent to $46.69 per barrel.
The revival in risk appetite weighed on gold. Spot gold extended losses to 0.6 percent, last trading at $1,333.71 an ounce. (Reuters)