Asian shares rise ahead of US tax plan
SYDNEY: Shares rose on Wednesday as investors hoped for progress on major tax reform in the United States, while the dollar hovered near one-month highs on growing expectations of a US interest rate increase in December.
European stock futures and Dax futures climbed 0.3 per cent each while FTSE futures gained 0.2 per cent.
MSCI’S broadest index of Asiapacific shares outside Japan added 0.1 per cent, after falling for four straight days to a three-week trough.
The Trump administration and Republicans in Congress are due to outline a tax plan on Wednesday. If passed, it would be the first significant legislative victory for US President Donald Trump since taking office in January.
It would also be a win for Wall Street as corporate tax cuts would potentially boost company profits, while a tax amnesty on offshore cash holdings could fuel share values as well as demand for the dollar.
“We’re now seeing some embryonic prospects of a tax reform in the United States which is a much bigger issue for the markets than the Federal Reserve,” said Ray Attrill, Sydney-based global head of forex strategy at National Australia Bank.
“Our view has been the market had moved from applying a Trump premium from November-december to applying Trump discount due to his inability to pass any major reforms. A meaningful tax reform could serve to reduce some of that discount.” Analysts said the US tech space will be one to watch as it has mountains of cash that could be repatriated for share buybacks and dividends.
Wall Street ended mostly flat on Tuesday, but the tech sector gained 0.4 per cent, with Apple shares rising 1.7 per cent after four sessions of declines.
China’s CSI 300 index rose 0.3 per cent on Wednesday, while Japan’s Nikkei was off 0.3 per cent, with some stocks trading ex-dividend.
In currencies, the dollar index last stood at 93.17 from 93.286 touched on Tuesday, the highest since Aug. 31. Markets were put on notice by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen who used a Tuesday speech to warn it would be “imprudent” to keep policy on hold until inflation is back to 2 per cent. She said the US central bank “should also be wary of moving too gradually” on rates.
Atlanta Fed chair Raphael Bostin also talked up the prospect of a December rate hike. The dollar also climbed on the yen to loiter near a 2-1/2 month high at 112.48, helped by rising US Treasury yields.
The yield on 2-year Treasury notes, which rises with traders’ expectations of higher Fed fund rates, touched 1.4590 per cent, a level not seen since October 2008.
Nigel Travis (centre), Chairman and CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, attends the opening bell ceremony at Nasdaq on Wednesday.