Global Markets: Australian Stocks Reach Highest Point Since 2008 -- Update

By Kenan Machado Features Dow Jones Newswires

Asia-Pacific stocks posted gains Tuesday after several days of little movement globally, allowing indexes in the region to hit fresh multiyear highs.

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A late-morning rush of buying, which some attributed to fresh foreign inflows, helped the Nikkei top its 1996 high and reach levels last seen in early 1992.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Hang Seng hit a fresh 10-year high and Australia's benchmark exceeded its 2015 peak to hit its highest point since early 2008.

The continuing low-interest-rate environment and a solid earnings season has presented a Goldilocks climate--an environment where economic conditions are seen as neither too week nor too strong to warrant policy efforts to prevent activity from potentially overheating--said Andrew Bresler, deputy Asia Pacific head of sales trading at Saxo Capital Markets.

"There are few risks on the horizon" to cut into current valuations, he added. Some have been concerned that equities globally have become overpriced.

Australian stocks notably lagged behind the region throughout 2017. But they came alive last month as prices for stocks and commodities rose globally, with the S&P/ASX 200 rising 4% in October, its best month of the year.

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It climbed another 1.5% this first week of November, including 0.7% Tuesday, putting the benchmark briefly above 6000.

Major mining companies BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto led the day's gains, rising more than 2% to hit their best levels in two years and six years respectively.

The sector was helped by a further rebound in Chinese iron-ore prices, which recently hit four-month lows. Futures prices on the Dalian Commodity Exchange in China shot up about 5% Monday and were recently 3.5% higher Tuesday.

"Rising steel prices now have investors alert to the possibility that iron ore" might be putting in a base, "justifying a rally in the major mining stocks," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets.

Higher oil prices in overnight U.S. trading gave energy stocks across the region a lift. After settling up 3% Monday, oil futures were recently down less than 0.2% in Asian trading.

Japan Petroleum and Inpex each climbed some 4% Tuesday, and the Nikkei was up 1.2% in early afternoon trading.

Sinopec rose similarly, which, along with another 3% jump in internet heavyweight Tencent, had Hong Kong's Hang Seng rising 1.1%, extending Monday's rebound in which a near-2% decline was erased by the close.

Stocks in Singapore, which are also influenced by oil prices, logged strong Tuesday morning gains. The Straits Times Index was recently up 0.9%, hitting a fresh two-year high.

Write to Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 06, 2017 23:15 ET (04:15 GMT)