Aussie, Kiwi Move Higher; Markets Focus on Fed Meeting

Yolanda Curtis
September 19, 2017

Posted: Sep. 18, 2017 8:00 am Updated: Sep.

Sept 18 (Reuters) - The three major US indexes were trading at record levels on Monday, powered by gains in financial, technology and industrial stocks, with focus on Federal Reserve's policy meet.

The Hang Seng index rose 1.27 per cent, to 28,159.77 points, while the China Enterprises Index gained 1.2 per cent, to 11,195.98 points.

Sterling touched its highest since the Brexit vote on Monday after notching its best week in nearly nine years against a currency basket. US gold futures for December delivery fell 0.5 percent to $1,319 an ounce.

First, this week's USA economic data are due in the form of reports on the housing market index, due today; housing starts as well as import and export prices, due Tuesday; existing home sales, due Wednesday; weekly jobless claims, Philadelphia Fed business outlook survey, and leading indicators, due Thursday; and PMI composite flash, and Atlanta Fed business expectations, due Friday.

The Fed is expected to hold interest rates steady, with investors looking for clues on its anticipated pace of further tightening later this year and next.

A relatively quiet North Korea and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's comments on "peaceful solution" over the weekend have calmed investors. The Security Council criticized Friday's launch over Japan as "highly provocative".

The U.N. Security Council has already imposed several rounds of sanctions on North Korea, but the USA ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, has said that most non-military options have all but been exhausted.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is considering calling a poll for as early as next month to take advantage of his improved approval ratings in the wake of the North Korea crisis, and disarray in the main opposition party, according to sources.

CENTRAL BANK WATCH: In Europe, investors are monitoring a speech by Bank of England Governor Mark Carney for confirmation that the bank expects to raise interest rates in coming months for the first time in a decade.

Across the Tasman, the Reserve Bank of Australia is to release the minutes of its September meeting. All are expected to leave policy unchanged but forecasters expect Australian policymakers to strike a more hawkish tone following stronger recent economic activity.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 65 points, or 0.29%, to 22,333, the S&P 500 rose four points, or 0.15%, to 2,504 and the Nasdaq Composite added six points, or 0.1%, to 6,455. The Nikkei 225 was a standout performer, rising almost 2% as Tokyo markets returned from Monday's holiday.

NZD/USD advanced 0.44% to trade at 0.7290.

Down Under, SPI futures edged up 0.11 percent to 5,727, which was a touch higher than the S&P/ASX 200's previous close of 5,720.599. Benchmarks in New Zealand and Singapore rose while the Philippines and Indonesia retreated.

Gold was little changed at $1,308.29 an ounce.

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