Asian shares rallied to their highest in a decade on Tuesday, while oil prices held their gains following having previously surged to a more than two-year peak on an anti-corruption purge by Saudi Arabia's crown prince.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended early gains, rising 0.8 percent to its loftiest peak since November 2007. The index got a bump higher after all three major U.S. equity indexes closed at record highs overnight.
Equities from Japan to Sydney to Hong Kong made fresh milestones. Earnings and a weaker yen helped propel the Nikkei 225 just shy of 23,000, to a level not seen since January 1992.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index closed at the highest level in almost 10 years. The Aussie dollar pulled back after getting a boost as the central bank highlighted confidence in the investment outlook, though left its forecast for growth largely unchanged and kept interest rates on hold.
A political power play in Saudi Arabia contributed to oil climbing to its highest in more than two years.
New Zealand’s new, left-of-center government kept the central bank’s existing target for the pace of inflation, spurring an early rally in the kiwi. The government said that the independence of the Reserve Bank won’t change and that it will retain the existing 1-3 percent inflation goal.
The new administration also confirmed it’s considering a dual mandate for the central bank of targeting full employment as well as price stability.
The Reserve Bank of Australia the cash target rate unchanged at 1.5 percent as expected by all economists surveyed. The central bank said that the outlook for non-mining business investment has improved, though inflation is likely to remain low for some time.
More on Asian stocks, South Korea’s Kospi index lost 0.2 percent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 1.4 percent and the Shanghai Composite Index added 0.5 percent. Meanwhile, Futures on the S&P 500 Index were up 0.1 percent. The underlying gauge closed up 0.1 percent Monday at a record.
Oil Prices Hold Gains
U.S. crude rallied up 12 cents to $57.45 after slipping from its previous rally and breaking above $56 a barrel for the first time in more than two years overnight. Brent crude futures were up 19 cents at $64.46.
Mohammed bin Salman's crackdown on graft led to arrests of royalty, ministers, and investors, including prominent billionaire investor Alwaleed bin Talal.
The unfolding situation in Saudi Arabia will continue to be watched by investors as the government intensifies an anti-graft drive that’s seen a number of senior officials ousted. Saudi Arabia’s attorney general said the weekend arrests of princes, businessmen and officials were only “phase one.”
For now, analysts do not see Saudi Arabia, the world's largest oil exporter, changing its policy of supporting crude prices, but the crackdown has spurred concerns of Middle Eastern money pulling out of global financial markets.
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