Japan stocks scale 15-year peak

JAPAN, Apr 8: Japanese shares scaled 15-year peaks on Wednesday while Hong Kong’s market leapt to seven-year highs amid speculation of more stimulus from China and Japan, as well as a delayed start to any tightening by the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Just before the European open, Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) said it had agreed to buy BG Group (BG.L) for 47 billion pounds ($70 billion) in the first oil super-merger in a decade.

Futures were pointing to a softer opening for European stock markets, but the confirmation of the megadeal could boost sentiment.

In Asian time, the Bank of Japan disappointed some by ending a two-day policy meeting with no new steps in its already massive bond-buying campaign, nudging the dollar down on the yen.

Yet with inflation back at zero, there is much talk it might expand the program at its next meeting on April 30.

Investors were encouraged enough to lift the Nikkei .N225 0.8 percent and finally take out a triple top at 19,778. The break took it to ground last trod in April 2000 and was seen as technically bullish with 20,000 the obvious next target.

Other milestones littered the region as Hong Kong shares .HSI shattered major resistance with a 2.6 percent rise to the highest since mid-2008.

Shanghai .SSEC scored seven-year peaks and MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS gained 1.2 percent to its highest since mid-September.

South Korea’s main index .KS11 made a seven-month top, while the Philippines .PSI market has been on a tear over the last couple of weeks to reach record highs.

The chase for yield in emerging markets helped offset a flat finish for Wall Street, where a higher dollar was viewed as a threat to multinational corporations’ profits.

Bank of America-Merrill Lynch on Tuesday cut its 2015 earnings estimates for the S&P 500 by $2 a share.

The Dow .DJI ended Tuesday down 0.03 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX lost 0.21 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 0.14 percent.

The dollar recovered much of the ground it lost to the euro following Friday’s disappointing U.S. jobs report, to stand at $1.0835 EUR=.

After the BOJ decision It dipped against the yen to trade at 119.90 JPY=, leaving behind an early 120.34 top. Against a basket of currencies, the dollar was also shade lower at 97.719 .DXY.

In commodities, oil pared recent gains after Saudi Arabia reported record production of 10.3 million barrels per day in March, a figure the country’s oil minister said was unlikely to fall by much. [API/S]

U.S. May crude CLc1 fell back $1.02 to $52.96 a barrel while Brent LCOc1 lost 70 cents to $58.40.

Gold took a knock from the rising dollar and edged back to $1,209.56 an ounce XAU=, having touched a seven-week high of $1,224.10 on Monday.