Asian shares rose to near eight-week highs on Thursday as investors bet the European Central Bank will unveil a bond-buying stimulus program later in the day in an attempt to revive the flagging euro zone economy. The euro treaded water ahead of the ECB decision, while the Canadian dollar took the spotlight after plunging to a nearly six-year low following the Bank of Canada’s surprise move to slash its overnight rate to help cushion the economy from plunging oil prices.
The loonie skidded almost 2 percent – its biggest one-day drop since November 2011 – to as far as $1.2420 per U.S. dollar, and last stood at C$1.2361. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 percent, while Japan’s Nikkei stock average was flat.
“If the ECB eases policy as expected, the news may be priced in quickly and investors may take profits,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo. The euro was steady at $1.1602, moving away from an 11-year nadir of $1.14595 plumbed last week as the market trimmed short positions ahead of the ECB meeting.