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Asia shares jump as China blue chips scale 5-year peak

Wayne Cole and Scott Murdoch
FILE PHOTO: Pedestrian wearing a face mask walks near an overpass with an electronic board showing stock information in Shanghai

By Wayne Cole and Scott Murdoch

SYDNEY/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asian shares scaled four-month peaks on Monday as investors counted on a revival in Chinese activity to boost global economic growth, even as surging coronavirus cases delayed business re-openings across the United States.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> climbed 1.6% to its highest since February, with the bullish sentiment spilling into other markets.

EUROSTOXX 50 futures <STXEc1> were trading up 2.3% and FTSE futures <FFIc1> 1.5%, while E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 <ESc1> firmed 1.1%.

Eyes were on Chinese blue chips <.CSI300> which jumped 5.4%on top of a 7% gain last week, to their loftiest level in five years. Even Japan's Nikkei <.N225>, which has lagged with a soft domestic economy, managed a rise of 1.8%.

In Hong Kong, Jefferies chief global equity strategist Sean Darby said the positive sentiment towards Asian markets was the result of better than expected regional economic data and elevated liquidity levels.

"All of the global monetary policy indicators are flashing green right now, it is very loose and that should mean markets which have underperformed should do well," Darby told Reuters.

"The dollar has also been weaker over the past five days so emerging markets, led by China, normally does well on that back of that."

Mizuho strategist Ken Cheung said the rising level of margin financing in mainland China, which was worth 22 trillion yuan ($3.1 trillion) in June, double the amount in February, would remain a key factor in the direction of the onshore equities market.

"It appears that the margin financing will be the most important driver for a bullish A-share market," he wrote in a research note.

The China Securities Journal wrote on Monday that China needed a bull market to help fund it a rapidly developing digital economy.

Most markets gained ground last week as a raft of economic data from June beat expectations, although the resurgence of coronavirus cases in the United States is clouding the future.

In the first four days of July alone, 15 states have reported record increases in new cases of COVID-19, which has infected nearly 3 million Americans and killed about 130,000, according to a Reuters tally.

Analysts estimate that reopenings affecting 40% of the U.S. population have now been wound back.

"Markets will have to climb a wall of worry in July as economic activity likely softens from the V-shaped recovery seen over recent months," said Robert Rennie, head of financial market strategy at Westpac.

"We must remember too that U.S. and China relations are deteriorating noticeably."

Two U.S. aircraft carriers conducted exercises in the disputed South China Sea on Saturday, the U.S. Navy said, as China also carried out military drills that have been criticised by the Pentagon and neighbouring states.

The risks, combined with unceasing stimulus from central banks, have kept sovereign bonds supported in the face of better economic data. While U.S. 10-year yields <US10YT=RR> edged up to 0.7% on Monday, well off the June top of 0.959%.

Analysts at Citi estimate global central banks are likely to buy $6 trillion of financial assets over the next 12 months, more than twice the previous peak.

Major currencies have been largely rangebound with the dollar index at 96.930 <=USD> having spent an entire month in a snug band of 95.714 to 97.808.

The dollar was a shade firmer on the yen at 107.68 <JPY=> on Monday, while the euro edged up to $1.1281 <EUR=>.

In commodity markets, gold has benefited from super-low interest rates across the globe as negative real yields for many bonds make the non-interest paying metal more attractive.

Spot gold traded at $1,772 per ounce <XAU=> just off last week's peak of $1,788.96. [GOL/]

Oil prices were mixed with Brent crude <LCOc1> futures up 30 cents at $43.10 a barrel, while U.S. crude <CLc1> eased 14 cents to $40.51 amid worries the surge in U.S. coronavirus cases would curb fuel demand. [O/R]


($1 = 7.0429 Chinese yuan renminbi)


(Editing by Sam Holmes and Richard Pullin)