Asian shares rebound, global soft money underpins

Asian shares rebounded on Tuesday after a sharp sell-off triggered by slumping Chinese stocks the previous session, as a globally accommodative monetary stance helped eased concerns and revived risk appetite.

A series of monetary policy meetings is to place this week, starting with the Reserve Bank of Australia, whose decision is due at 03:30 GMT (9 a.m. in India). Major central banks around the world are expected to maintain a dovish stance, given fragile economic conditions, political uncertainties in Europe, and US budget wrangling.

Growth concerns prompted initial caution on Wall Street, but investors took advantage of the decline to jump in, even though indexes hover near historic or multi-year highs. Analysts also say none of the uncertainties is seen as a risk serious enough to trigger a financial crisis.

Janet Yellen, vice chair of the Federal Reserve, said on Monday the US central bank's aggressive monetary stimulus is warranted given how far the economy was operating below its full potential. Her comments helped supported investor sentiment.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5 per cent after tumbling 1.3 per cent as Chinese shares dived on concerns Beijing's move to tighten the housing market could weigh on growth.

Australian shares jumped 1.4 per cent, with financial stocks leading the gains ahead of the outcome of the RBA's meeting. South Korean shares opened up 0.5 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei stock average opened up 0.7 per cent. It scaled a fresh 53-month high on Monday.

"Despite spending cuts in the US, a lack of any kind of political resolution in Italy and weaker data in Asia, we just can't get a proper 'risk-off' mood going ... as mad money (quantitative easing and zero interest rate policy) trumps every other concern," said Kit Juckes, strategist at Societe Generale in a note to clients.

Aside from the Chinese government's action to cool the overheated property market, there is concern about US growth slowing after the automatic "sequestration" spending cuts were allowed to kick in starting March 1.

Ongoing political turmoil in Italy also dented investor appetite for risk as last month's inconclusive election could pave the way for another vote within months.

Italy's 10-year government bond yields rose to 4.881 percent on Monday, but expectations the European Central Bank would use its scheme to help fund struggling euro zone nations underpinned investor confidence and capped the yields from rising further.

The euro held steady around $1.3033 and the dollar was also steady around 93.40 against the yen.

The ECB holds its policy meeting on Thursday, and while few expect the bank to cut interest rates this week, many see such an action to come sooner than later.

The RBA is considered almost certain to keep its cash rate unchanged at a record low 3.0 per cent, having already lowered it by 175 basis points in the past 15 months.

Later in the week the Bank of Japan and the Bank of England hold their meetings.

Gold has been sluggish on the lack of global risk aversion. Data showed holdings of the world's largest gold-backed ETF, the SPDR Gold Trust, posted a ninth consecutive daily decline on Friday after reporting the biggest ever one-month drop in February.

Spot gold was up 0.1 per cent at $1,574.60 an ounce early on Tuesday.

US crude was up 0.2 per cent to $90.28 a barrel early on Tuesday.

Copyright @ Thomson Reuters 2013


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