GLOBAL MARKETS-Growth view fuels gains in commodity stocks, oil

* Asia-ex Japan commodity share index near 2-1/2 yr peak

* S&P/Goldman commodities index rises to 26-month peak

* Thomson Reuters IBES data shows Asia stocks fairly priced

By Saikat Chatterjee

HONG KONG, Dec 23 (BestGrowthStock) – Asian shares edged higher on
Thursday with gains led by resource-linked stocks, and oil
traded just below the two-year high it hit yesterday on
cautious but growing optimism of the health of the world
economy.

European stocks are also expected to start extend their
December rally, led by heavyweight energy issues.
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Wednesday’s revised data which showed the U.S economy
expanded at a slightly higher pace of 2.6 percent in the third
quarter came after recent data such as retail sales indicated
economic activity has accelerated in the last few months.

The Asia-ex Japan index for commodity shares as measured
by MSCI climbed within sight of a recent 2-1/2
year peak as investors bet that a healing U.S. economy along
with the ongoing rise of China and India would continue to
fuel demand for commodities amid tight supplies.
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The S&P/Goldman commodities index , which has a
higher weighting of oil and is therefore more relevant to Asia
due to its huge demand, also approached a fresh 26-month peak.

U.S. crude oil for delivery in February (CLc1: ) traded at
$90.68 per barrel at 0647 GMT, 12 cents below Wednesday’s peak.

The 30-day correlation between the S&P 500 and the same
commodities index has been between a high 0.87 and 0.94,
indicating that investors view both asset classes with a
similar degree of bullishness.

That brightening growth view has encouraged analysts to
revise upwards their projections for the U.S. and pushed
Treasury yields up nearly 100 basis points since the start of
November,when the Fed launched its second round of
quantitative easing.

“The global economy looks a whole lot happier than it did
six months ago. Fears of a double-dip have faded,” HSBC
economists said in a note while upgrading their 2011 global
growth forecasts by nearly half a percentage point to 3.3
percent led by Asia.

That growing optimism was reflected in latest Reuters
polls which showed investment houses raising their equity
holdings, increasing exposure to high-yield credit and cutting
back on government debt.

FAIRLY PRICED

Asia Pacific stocks as measured by MSCI
were slightly higher. Thin year-end liquidity and a holiday in
Japan meant activity was limited after investors recently
banked some profits when Asian stocks hit 2-1/2 year peaks.

According to Thomson Reuters IBES data, 12-month forward
price/earnings multiples for Asia-ex Japan shares was hovering
close to its 10-year average of 12.83 — indicating that
stocks are fairly priced at current levels.

But in a grim reminder that the euro zone’s debt crisis is
far from over, the euro plumbed to a record low versus
the Swiss franc overnight, with traders citing some buying
interest emerging from players in the region including central
banks.

While the 2011 outlook for the euro continues to be
bearish, it seems sandwiched between good sovereign demand in
the high 1.30’s and decent selling interest on 100 pip rallies.

Ten-year U.S. Treasuries were largely
unchanged at 3.35 percent with benchmark yields holding below
a seven-month high tested last week. Ten-year Treasury futures
expiring in March 2011 (TYv1: ) were largely unchanged.

The benchmark iTraxx investment grade index
was quoted at 102/105 bps, compared with Wednesday’s close of
104 bps. It ended 2009 at a spread of 95.50 bps.

Gold , a big beneficiary this year as a result of
its perceived status as a safe haven asset amid Europe’s debt
crisis, was largely steady around $1,386 an ounce, just below
a historical peak of around $1,430 hit earlier this month.

(Additional reporting by Kevin Plumberg, Umesh Desai,
Reuters FX analyst Krishna Kumar and Ian Chua in Sydney;
Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

GLOBAL MARKETS-Growth view fuels gains in commodity stocks, oil