Asia shares camp on high ground, oil jumps on Libya shutdown

By Ritu,

Capital Sands

Asian shares neared a 20-month top on Monday as Wall Street extended its run of record peaks on solid U.S. economic data and lashes of liquidity from the Federal Reserve.

Oil prices jumped as oilfields in southwest Libya began shutting down after forces loyal to Khalifa Haftar closed a pipeline, potentially reducing national output to a fraction of its normal level.

Early turnover in Asian shares was light with U.S. stock and bond markets closed for the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan firmed 0.1%, after notching its highest close since June 2018. Japan’s Nikkei added 0.2% to be near its highest in 15 months.

Chinese shares opened firm with the blue-chip CSI300 index up 0.2%.

Eyes will be on U.S. corporate earnings with Netflix Inc, Intel Corp and Texas Instruments Inc set to report this week, while central banks in the European Union, Canada and Japan hold policy meetings.

Sentiment was supported by the relentless run of record highs on Wall Street. Only three weeks into the new year, the S&P 500 has gained just over 3% and the NASDAQ almost 5%.

Australia’s main index scored another all-time peak and South Korea was near its best level since October 2018. E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 edged up 0.1%.

The euro was stuck at $1.1095, while sterling idled at $1.3000 after poor British economic news fanned speculation about a cut in interest rates.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was flat at 97.616, moving away from the recent trough of 96.355.

Spot gold stood at $1,557.75 per ounce, having hit a seven-year top earlier this month of $1,610.90 at the height of Iran-U.S. tensions.Concerns about a cut in supply from Libya sent oil prices higher.Brent crude futures rose 76 cents to $65.61 a barrel, while U.S. crude jumped 61 cents to $59.15.

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