Reuters - Asia share indexes rested at record highs Thursday as market participants digested recent gains while bulls were sustained by the promise of endless free money after a benign reading on U.S. inflation and a dovish Federal Reserve outlook.
There was a lack of liquidity as markets in China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan were all on holiday.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.1% - having already climbed for four sessions to be up over 10% so far this year.
Japan's Nikkei was shut after ending at a 30-year peak Wednesday while Australia's main index held near an 11-month top.
With China off, there was little reaction to news that the Joe Biden administration will look at adding "new targeted restrictions" on certain sensitive technology exports and would maintain tariffs for now.
Futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq were both steady - having hit highs Wednesday. Eurostoxx 50 futures and FTSE futures barely budged.
Still, the outlook for more international stimulus got a boost overnight from a surprisingly soft reading on core U.S. inflation, which eased to 1.4% in January.
Federal Reserve Chairperson Jerome Powell said he wanted to see inflation reach 2% or more before even thinking of tapering the bank's super-easy policies.
Powell emphasized that once pandemic effects were stripped out, unemployment was nearer 10% than the reported 6.3% and, thus, a long way from full employment.
As a result, Powell called for a "societywide commitment" to reducing unemployment - which analysts saw as strong support for President Biden's $1.9 trillion stimulus package.
Westpac economist Elliot Clarke estimated more than $5 trillion in cumulative stimulus, worth 23% of gross domestic product, would be required to repair the damage done by the pandemic.
"Historical experience provides strong justification to only act against undesired inflationary pressures once they have been seen, after full employment has been achieved," he said.
"To that end, financial conditions are expected to remain highly supportive of the U.S. economy and international financial markets in 2021, and likely through 2022."
The mix of bottomless Fed funds and a tame inflation report was a salve for bond market pains, leaving 10-year yields at 1.12% from a 1.20% high early in the week.
That in turn weighed on the U.S. dollar, which slipped to 90.395 on a basket of currencies and away from a 10-week top of 91.600 touched late last week.
The dollar eased to 104.57 yen, from a recent peak of 105.76, while the euro rallied to $1.2122 from its low of $1.1950.
In commodity markets, gold was sidelined at $1,838 an ounce as market participants drove platinum to a six-year peak on bets of more demand from the automobile sector.
Oil prices took a breather, having enjoyed the longest winning streak in two years amid producer supply cuts and hopes vaccine rollouts will drive a recovery in demand.
"The current price levels are healthier than the actual market and entirely reliant on supply cuts, as demand still needs to recover," according to Bjornar Tonhaugen of Rystad Energy.
Brent crude futures eased back 40 cents to $61.07, while U.S. crude dipped 36 cents to $58.32 a barrel.