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Asia: Stocks edge higher, kiwi slides

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[SYDNEY] Stocks in Asia were mostly higher with global equities remaining near record levels, while oil rebounded. The New Zealand dollar declined after the nation's central bank said it will keep rates at a record low for an extended period.

Shares in Australia, New Zealand and South Korea advanced. Japan's Topix index was little changed, trading near the highest since December 2015. The S&P 500 Index edged higher to claim a second closing record this week. Gold extended declines to a seventh day. Snap Inc shares tumbled in after-hours trading after the social network added fewer users than forecast.

Corporate earnings and positive data on the US economy have buoyed sentiment about global growth. While profit reports have largely topped estimates, Toyota Motor Corp dented optimism after forecasting a second straight annual decline in profit.

New York Fed President William Dudley will give a speech in Mumbai, a chance for investors to assess future US monetary policy after Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan cast doubt on the pace of rate increases.

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While the Reserve Bank of New Zealand kept its benchmark rate unchanged, the central bank said it will keep rates there for an extended period, saying inflation will slow. The bank projected that inflation will decelerate to 1.1 per cent in the first quarter of 2018, and said a premature monetary tightening could undermine growth.

Here are the key events investors will be scrutinising:

Trade data is due in the Philippines followed by a monetary policy decision.

The Bank of England on Thursday publishes its interest-rate decision and quarterly Inflation Report.

Currencies 

The yen traded little changed at 114.31 per US dollar as of 9:06am in Tokyo. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index rose 0.1 per cent, after Wednesday's 0.1 per cent decline.

The kiwi fell 1.6 per cent to 68.26 US cents, the biggest slide since Donald Trump's election victory in November.

Stocks

Japan's Topix index was flat, trading near the highest level since December 2015. South Korea's Kospi advanced 0.3 per cent and New Zealand's S&P/NZX 50 increased 0.7 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.6 per cent.

Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed after the underlying gauge rose 0.1 per cent Wednesday, closing at an all-time high.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index advanced 0.2 per cent. 

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasury notes fell two basis points to 2.40 per cent, after rising a similar amount on Wednesday.

Yields on 10-year Australian government notes were steady at 2.66 per cent.

Commodities

West Texas oil rose 0.2 per cent after jumping 3.2 per cent Wednesday. The rebound comes after a 6.3 per cent slide last week.

Gold slipped 0.1 per cent to US$1,217.93, on course for a seventh day of losses, the longest stretch of declines since October. 

BLOOMBERG

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