Asian Equities Higher after U.S. Record Highs

Asian shares rose early on Friday after Wall Street set another record high with prospects for a Federal Reserve rate hike in June all but quashed, while the dollar steadied after losing ground to the euro for the first time this week on downbeat U.S. data.  MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.2 percent with South Korean and Australian shares edging higher.

Tokyo’s Nikkei was little changed, hovering at a 15-year high. Japanese stocks have been boosted this week by data showing stronger-than-expected first quarter growth.  The Bank of Japan concludes its two-day policy meeting later in the session and while the central bank is widely expected to stand pat on policy, with some focus on how it perceived GDP growth in the first quarter.

“There is little tension over the Bank of Japan policy meeting. Governor Kuroda and colleagues have sounded comfortable with the current policy stance and are likely to point to the slight upside surprise on Q1 GDP as further vindication,” Sean Callow, senior currency strategist at Westpac in Sydney, wrote in a note.  The S&P .SPX inched up 0.2 percent to close at a new all-time high overnight, albeit amid below-average volume. U.S. equities have been relieved after seeing the April Fed policy meeting minutes released midweek show that most officials were not inclined toward a June hike.