SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian markets started on a firm footing and the dollar eased on Friday as softer-than-forecast U.S. inflation data tempered expectations for faster Federal Reserve interest rate rises this year.
Investor sentiment also got a small boost after U.S. President Donald Trump said he had high hopes of “doing something very meaningful” to curtail North Korea’s nuclear ambitions at a summit in Singapore next month.
Clear signs of thawing relationships in the Korean peninsula and the prospect of still expansionary monetary policies in most of the developed world helped whet risk appetite, although concerns remained around U.S.-China trade skirmishes and rising tensions in the Middle East.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose for a second straight session to near three-week highs.
Japan’s Nikkei climbed 0.7 percent while South Korea’s KOSPI added 0.6 percent. Australian and New Zealand shares were both up 0.2 percent.
On Wall Street, the Dow rose 0.8 percent, the Nasdaq Composite gained 0.89 percent and the S&P 500 rose 0.9 percent, surging past key resistance of 2,717 points.
Equities gained as investors trimmed their expectations for four Fed rate hikes after inflation data showed price pressures remained weak. The Fed has already raised rates once this year and is widely expected to go twice again in 2018.
The U.S. consumer price index rose 0.2 percent last month, below analyst forecasts of 0.3 percent, as a moderation in healthcare prices offset increases in the cost of gasoline and rental accommodations.
The dollar fell the most since late March overnight against a basket of