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Stocks bask in tech mania, Nvidia boom

By Stella Qiu

SYDNEY (Reuters) -Global stock markets are on course on Friday for a week of heady gains as AI darling Nvidia’s stunning results sparked a wave of record highs from Asia to Europe and the U.S., while the yen nursed losses on a range of currencies.

European markets pointed to higher openings with EUROSTOXX 50 futures up 0.1% and FTSE futures gaining 0.2%. U.S. futures were mostly flat.

Nvidia surged 16.4% overnight, adding a record $277 billion in market value. The company’s results supercharged a global AI-led rally in technology stocks, propelling the S&P 500, the Dow Jones Industrials, Europe’s STOXX 600 and Japan’s Nikkei share average to record highs.

Japan is closed for a public holiday on Friday, but Nikkei futures rose nearly 1%, suggesting Japanese stocks will extend their record run next week.

Some regional tech shares took a breather after a stellar rally this week, but MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan IT index still put on 0.3% to its highest level since March 2022.

South Korea’s Hynix, the world’s second-biggest memory chipmaker which counts Nvidia (NVDA.O) as a key client, jumped 2.2% and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd rallied 1%. The Global X Asia semiconductor ETF was up 0.9%.

“The Nvidia effect has ripped through global equity markets and given fresh wind to markets that were looking ominously poised for a 3-5% drawdown,” said Chris Weston, head of research at Pepperstone in Melbourne.

“Consider that Nvidia holds its highly anticipated GTC (technology) conference on 18 March – where they are likely to update the market on new products and innovations – so pullbacks in the stock should be shallow, and we could see buyers push price higher into that event,” he said.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan pared early gains to be up 0.2% and was heading for a weekly gain of 1.3%.

Chinese shares wobbled between gains and losses. The Shanghai Composite index rose above the psychologically key 3,000-point mark before retreating to trade 0.3% higher. It is up 4.6% for the week and has bounced about 10% from five-year lows set more than two weeks ago.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 0.2%.

Data showed on Friday that China’s new home prices fell for the seventh month in January, leaving sentiment fragile as policymakers’ efforts to restore confidence in the debt-ridden sector struggled for traction.

Shane Oliver, chief economist at AMP, said markets in general have been resilient even as global central banks pushed back against hopes for early rate cuts.

“I think the markets are sort of coming to the view ‘well maybe we’ll get the rate cuts’. They may not be as much as we thought, and they might be later, but if the economic activity is still good then that’s not a problem.”

A Reuters poll showed that the recent rally in global stocks had a little further to go but they were divided on whether there would be a correction in the next three months.

The influential Fed Governor Christopher Waller on Thursday said policymakers should wait at least another couple of months to see if inflation was indeed heading back to target.

Rates markets continued to pare back U.S. policy easing expectations on the back of strong U.S. economic data. Jobless claims fell, home sales rose to a five-month high although the expansion in business activity slipped a little.

The first Fed cut is now fully priced in for July, and just 80 basis points of easing is reflect in this year’s curve.

The cash Treasuries market is closed on Friday, but overnight, the 10-year Treasury yield rose to a three-month high of 4.3540%.

In the foreign exchange market, the yen was little changed at 150.59 per dollar on Friday, above the 150 level seen as possibly drawing Japanese intervention to slow the currency’s decline.

However, the yen has taken a beating against a broad range of currencies as investors bet the Bank of Japan will keep monetary policy accommodative even after ending negative interest rates.

The Australian and kiwi dollars hit nine-year highs on the yen overnight and were last fetching 98.89 and 93.33 yen. The euro hovered at 162.96 yen, nearing a 15-year high of 164.30.

Oil prices fell after climbing on supply fears as hostilities in the Red Sea showed no signs of abating. A large build in U.S. crude inventories also weighed. [O/R]

Brent eased 0.5% to $83.23, while U.S. crude slipped 0.6% to $78.17 per barrel.

The spot gold price was flat at $2,022.22.

(Reporting by Stella Qiu; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Neil Fullick)


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