By John Geddie
LONDON (Reuters) – The dollar recovered on Thursday, having hit its lowest in more than two weeks as U.S. central bankers showed they were taking a more guarded view of inflation, helped by a steep fall in the British pound.
Asian stocks climbed to their highest in a decade, powering global shares to another record high and keeping them on course for their longest winning streak ever. Wall Street was set to open down from Wednesday’s record high (ESc1).
The dollar’s dip came after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s September meeting on Wednesday showed policymakers had a prolonged debate about whether inflation would pick up and the path of future interest rate rises if it did not.
But it slowly regained ground on Thursday and the pound tumbled after the European Union’s chief negotiator said talks over Britain’s exit from the EU were at an impasse [GBP/].
“The minutes highlighted Fed officials are growing concerned low inflation might reflect more than transitory factors,” RBC’s global macro strategist Peter Schaffrik said.
European government bond yields fell in step with their U.S. peers. Italian yields led the trend, falling to near a three-week low after the government won support for electoral change likely to penalize the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement [GVD/EUR].
U.S. and German 10-year yields fell 1 basis points to 2.33 percent and 0.45 percent, respectively. Italian yields were down 3 basis points at 2.14 percent .
The eye-catching move in stock markets came in Asia, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (MIAPJ0000PUS) reaching their highest since December 2007, up 0.7 percent on the day.
Japan’s Nikkei (N225) was up 0.4 percent after brushing 20,994.40, its highest since November 1996. South Korea’s KOSPI (KS11) added 0.55 percent to reach a record high. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng (HIS) scaled a decade-high.
MSCI’s broadest index of world stocks also reached record highs, as it has for six of the past eight trading days (MIWD00000PUS). It is on course for its 12th month of gains in October, its best run ever.
“Fundamentally, the global economy is in decent shape. Corporate sentiment is also sound as evidenced by strong data like the Chinese PMI, U.S. ISM and Japanese tankan,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.
European stocks (STOXX) were less bouyant, with financial shares the biggest burden. Just Eat was the top performer after its merger with Hungryhouse got provisional clearance.
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In currencies, sterling was down 0.7 percent to $1.3135 after Michel Barnier said talks between the EU and Britain have not made major progress this week and are stuck over how much Britain should pay when it leaves.
The euro rose to its highest since Sept. 25 in early trades and was on course for a fifth day of gains.
Political developments in Italy and easing tensions in Spain after Catalonia stopped short of declaring independence have supported the common currency in recent days.
The yen was up 0.2 percent against the dollar and the euro (EURJPY=) after a media survey showed that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling party may come close to keeping its two-thirds “super” majority in an Oct. 22 lower house election.
The Mexican peso was up at 18.735 pesos per dollar . That added to gains of 0.7 percent overnight as it rose from a five-month low, although the currency may come under renewed pressure if North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks run aground.
Bitcoin smashed through the $5,000 barrier for the first time ever , jumping as much as 8 percent on the day.
In commodities, oil prices fell as U.S. fuel inventories rose despite efforts by OPEC to cut production [O/R].
Brent crude oil (LCOc1) was down 60 cents at $56.34 a barrel by 1055 GMT. U.S. light crude (CLc1) was 75 cents lower at $50.55. Both benchmarks have risen more than 20 percent from their lows in June as world oil markets tightened.
Spot gold edged up to a 15-day high of $1,297.4 an ounce, supported by a weaker dollar.