Asian shares hit 18-month high

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A broad gauge of Asian share markets rose to an 18-month high on Monday as Chinese equities gained, while oil touched three-month highs on a combination of U.S. crude inventory drawdowns, trade optimism and unrest in the Middle East.

But European shares were expected to open lower as investors take a breather from recent rallies.

In early European trade, the pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures STXEc1 were down 0.16% at 3,764, German DAX futures FDXc1 were down 0.22% at 13,291.5 and FTSE futures FFIc1 were down 0.11% at 7,578.5.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose to its highest since June 19, 2018, before trimming gains. It was last up 0.05%.

Chinese blue chips .CSI300, which had started the day lower, were up 1.13% in afternoon trade, bolstered by a report that 2019 retail sales are forecast to rise 8% and expectations that a new benchmark for floating-rate loans could lower borrowing costs and boost flagging economic growth.

But Australian shares finished 0.25% lower as investors continued to consolidate recent gains.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index .N225 finished its last trading day of the year down 0.76%.

The index gained 18.2% in 2019 after dropping 12.8% last year.

Easing trade war worries and reduced uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s plans to leave the European Union after British elections returned a strong Conservative majority have offered a lift to global equities this month, helping the broad MSCI Asia index rise more than 6% and putting it on track for its strongest month since January.

Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets, said that limited liquidity near the year-end and the easing of U.S.-China trade and Brexit uncertainties has “just left us drifting up higher. So even if there is a pullback… I don’t think it’s going to be significant by any means,” he stated.

Peace PIAK

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