September 17, 2012 / 2:53 AM / 5 years ago

Asian stocks hold firm after Fed-inspired rally

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian stocks held steady on Monday and gold, oil and copper hovered near multi-month highs, after markets rallied late last week on hopes that fresh stimulus measures from the developed world’s big central banks will support flagging growth.

Passers-by are reflected on an electronic monitor displaying share prices at a brokerage in Tokyo September 7, 2012. REUTERS/Issei Kato

The dollar languished near its lowest in seven months, as the aggressive new securities-buying programme announced by the Federal Reserve on Thursday tempted investors back into riskier assets such as equities and commodities.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.1 percent, with Australian shares rising 0.3 percent but South Korean stocks slightly lower. Tokyo markets were closed for a holiday.

Oil prices were also firm, with Brent crude rising nearly 0.2 percent to around $116.85 a barrel, while U.S. crude was little changed just below $99 a barrel.

The tone has been bullish in financial markets since the European Central Bank said on September 6 it would intervene in the bond markets to drive down the borrowing costs of struggling euro zone members.

A second monetary shot-in-the-arm was delivered by the Fed, which said it would pump $40 billion into the economy each month until the jobs market shows sustained improvement, powering U.S. stocks to their highest close in nearly five years on Friday.

So-called quantitative easing, in which the Fed creates money to buy assets, tends to support stocks and commodities due to the increased liquidity flowing into markets, but the flood of dollars can weigh on the U.S. currency.

The dollar index .DXY, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was little changed on Monday, having fallen on Friday to levels not seen since late February.

The euro fetched around $1.3108, slipping a little away from a four-month peak of $1.3169 set Friday. It has soared nearly 10 percent from a 25-month trough around $1.2042 plumbed in July.

Editing by Michael Perry

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