Nikkei 225 Stock Average headed for its highest close in more than 18 years. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2 percent to 150.15 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo. The Nikkei 225 increased 0.4 percent, poised for the highest close since December 1996. The measure has climbed 20 percent this year. European and U.S. equities extended gains on Tuesday as investors weighed economic data for clues on the timing of higher interest rates amid optimism that a deal on Greek aid is within reach.
“The Japanese economy is improving and corporate earnings are doing well,” Hiroichi Nishi, a manager at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo, said by phone. “As monetary policy in the U.S. moves toward normalization, we’ll have moderate rate hikes. We’ll continue to have to watch the situation in Greece carefully, but within the wait-and-see mood there’s increasing
hope that they’ll come to an agreement.”
E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index added less than 0.1 percent after the nderlying measure advanced 0.1 percent on Tuesday. Purchases of new homes climbed in May to a 546,000 annualized pace, the strongest since February 2008, according to Commerce Department data. Another report from the agency showed orders placed with factories for business equipment rose last month for just the second time this year.
The chances are about 50-50 that the U.S. economy will improve enough for the central bank to boost borrowing costs in September, said Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell, who expects policy makers to move again in December.
In Greece, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is seeking to shore up support at home for proposals aimed at ending the indebted nation’s five-month standoff with creditors. Euro-area finance ministers meet Wednesday to try to secure an agreement to prevent Greece from defaulting. Analysts say a solution will be found. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index rose 1.2 percent on Tuesday.
Japan’s Topix index added 0.5 percent Wednesday. South Korea’s Kospi index rose 0.2 percent. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.3 percent, as did New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index.
Markets in Hong Kong and China are yet to open. The Shanghai Composite Index posted its biggest intraday rebound in eight years on Tuesday.
“Markets have now focused back on what they were focusing on prior to real concerns developing about Greece, and that is the adjustment for the potential for higher interest rates,”
said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst in Sydney at CMC Markets.
Despite the prospects for higher interest rates in the U.S., “equity markets have decided that bond yields are going to go up, but not enough to really do a lot of damage to the growth prospects or valuations at this stage.”
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