Global Stock Gains Show Some Signs of Slowing

By Lucy CraymerFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

The global stock rally continued in Asia early Friday with numerous markets hitting multiyear highs, though gains show signs of cooling.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average, which rose as much as 0.7% early to hit fresh 26-year highs after Thursday's pop, was recently up just 0.2%.

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In New Zealand, equities turned lower in afternoon trading following consecutive record closes to start 2018, as some large caps ease in holiday-thinned trading. Taiwan's benchmark, which jumped 1.9% the past three sessions, was down 0.1% early.

Still, with broad gains persisting Friday morning in Asia, "markets are continuing to track up very nicely and they all appear to be in a relatively strong uptrend," said Grant Williamson, a broker at Hamilton Hindin Greene. Global economic growth underpins support for equities, though "fundamentals were starting to look a bit stretched" in some markets, he said.

The latest upbeat reading came Thursday from a U.S. employment release from payroll company ADP showing strong December job growth. The Dow industrials subsequently completed its fastest-ever move to a 1,000-point milestone.

The government's official unemployment data comes Friday, and OCBC cautioned there could be some profit-taking ahead of Friday's close of Asian trading.

After struggling Thursday, markets in Australia and Korea were among the biggest early gainers--their main indexes were each up 0.6%. Australia's move to fresh 10-year highs came despite a surprise November trade deficit, which pushed the Australian dollar down slightly.

Away from stocks, OCBC said Chinese bonds are likely to remain under pressure as investors consider the potential impact of new regulations in the country's ongoing deleveraging efforts. Chinese financial stocks, which have been doing well of late, are also at risk, the investment bank said.

But broad risk appetite and strong moves in equities continues to support commodity prices, with oil hitting fresh three-year highs Thursday. The crude market is essentially flat in Friday morning Asian trading.

Write to Lucy Craymer at Lucy.Craymer@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 04, 2018 21:30 ET (02:30 GMT)