Nonfarm payrolls report last Friday announced that US lost 33,000 jobs in September impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but hourly wages rose 2.9 percent from a year earlier. Meanwhile, Fed minutes from its September discussions suggest an additional rate hike despite the low inflation. As a result of the upbeat sentiments, Dow Jones Industrial Average notched a record high at 22,872.89 on 11 October for the first time ever. Over the last two weeks, the US bellwether registered a 2.2 percent gain to close at 22,841.01.
Similar euphoric moods can also be witnessed in the Asian markets. Hong Kong stocks surged on 3 October with Chinese banks leading the way following China’s central bank announcement to cut the reserve requirement ratio. Hang Seng Index rose 2.2 percent in that single trading day and ended the fortnight advancing 3.1 percent to end at 28,476.43. Likewise, Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.1 percent in the fortnight after the market reopened from its Golden Week holiday.
Driven by improved optimism over the strength of its economy, Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index hit a record close on 13 Oct breaking above the 21,000 mark. The figure is the highest not seen since 21 years ago on December 1996. Over the fortnight, Nikkei soared 3.2 percent closing at record high of 21,155.18.
A week after flash estimates from the URA revealed that private home sales rose 0.5 percent in 3Q17 reversing four years of decline since 3Q13, preliminary estimates from SRX Property also reported a 0.1 percent increase in resale prices of non-landed private homes in the month of September. This does not come as a surprise as developers continue to bid up land prices aggressively, with GuocoLand securing a Beach Road commercial land tender at $1.6 billion while City Developments snapped up Amber Park en bloc collective sale for $906.7 million. Buoyed by bullish sentiments across major markets, the Straits Times Index stood firm above 3,300 at 3,319.11 adding 2.9 percent for the fortnight.
All eyes will be focused on the upcoming 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China to be commenced next week, as investors await fresh news on what Xi Jinping has in his plans for the world’s second largest economy going forward.