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Asian shares at 1-month highs, copper at 4-year peak


[SYDNEY] Asian shares rose to a one-month high on Thursday and were on track for their best annual performance since 2009, while commodity-driven currencies were buoyed by a rally in copper, which hit a four-year peak.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 per cent at 563.86 points, a level last visited in late November. It has rocketed 32 per cent in the year so far.

MSCI world equity index, which tracks shares in 47 countries, also held near record highs. It has surged 21.5 per cent this year.

Trade was light across the board with many market participants on holiday.

Copper remained a standout trade, soaring for a ninth straight session on Wednesday to a level not seen since early 2014 on expectations of strong demand from top consumer China.

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Prices of the metal, considered a barometer for global growth and used widely in power and construction, are up 30 per cent in the calendar year so far.

Gold prices were also buoyant. Spot gold stayed within a striking distance of a four-week peak of US$1,289.5 an ounce.

The strength in metals boosted currencies of commodity exporting countries.

The Australian dollar hovered near a more than two-month high while its New Zealand counterpart stayed at a 2-1/2 month top. The Canadian dollar was at its strongest in three weeks.

In other currencies, the greenback slipped against the yen while the dollar index sagged to a three-week low as US Treasury yields came off recent highs.

Treasury 2/10s yield curve slipped below 52 basis points, from almost 64 basis points last week.

"The dollar bears are getting their last licks in for 2017, perhaps foreshadowing of things to come in 2018," said Stephen Innes, head of trading for APAC at OANDA.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against other major currencies, is seen ending about 9 per cent lower in 2017 as the reflation trade seen at the start of the year faded.

It is down more than 3 per cent on the yen.

In commodities, Brent crude, the international benchmark for oil prices, held at 66.44 a barrel. US crude was off 3 US cents at US$59.61 after climbing to a 2-1/2 year high of US$60.01 on Tuesday.


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