SHANGHAI, RAW – Asian shares have risen and a gauge of global equities has hovered near record highs after rising consumer confidence in economic recovery boosted the Nasdaq index to its highest-ever closing level.

MSCI’s global share index was set for a fifth straight month of gains on Wednesday. Its index tracking Asian shares outside Japan was set for a small monthly loss, but still on course for a fifth straight quarterly rise, its longest such streak since 2006-2007.

The Asian index was last up 0.33 per cent on the day.

Chinese blue chips added 0.1 per cent, Australian shares were up 0.58 per cent and set for a ninth straight month of gains, and Seoul’s Kospi rose 0.35 per cent. Japan’s Nikkei edged up 0.06 per cent.

Still, Steven Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec in Sydney, said that following the global run-up in equities, markets were “on edge” before the release of US non-farm payrolls data on Friday, the results of which could influence Federal Reserve policy.

On Monday, Richmond Federal Reserve president Thomas Barkin said the US central bank had made “substantial further progress” toward its inflation goal in order to begin tapering asset purchases.

The market’s continued focus on Fed plans for tapering come as the world’s largest economy continues to rebound from pandemic lockdowns.

US consumer confidence jumped to its highest level in nearly one-and-a-half years in June as growing labour market optimism amid a reopening economy offset concerns about higher inflation.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500 gained or 0.03 per cent, and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.19 per cent, hitting its record-high close.

At the same time, some investors remain worried about the economic impact of the highly infectious Delta variant of coronavirus.

Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Australia are battling outbreaks and tightening restrictions, and Spain and Portugal announced restrictions for unvaccinated British tourists.

Underlining the impact of even small COVID flare-ups, data showed activity in China’s services sector grew at a slower pace in June as curbs from a resurgence in cases in southern China restrained a rebound in consumption.

The greenback edged down from one-week peaks. The dollar index was last down 0.04 per cent at 92.026, with the yen firming slightly to 110.48 and the euro up 0.08 per cent at $US1.1904.

Sterling was last trading at $US1.3857, up 0.17 per cent on the day.

Meanwhile, US Treasury yields were slightly lower. The benchmark 10-year note last yielded 1.4765 per cent, down slightly from 1.48 per cent late on Tuesday.

The 30-year bond last yielded 2.0891 per cent, down from 2.097 per cent.

Oil prices remained higher as hopes for a demand recovery persisted despite the new Delta variant outbreaks.

Brent crude futures settled 0.56 per cent at $US75.18 per barrel and US crude gained 0.79 per cent to $US73.56.

Spot gold rose 0.15 per cent to $US1,763.66 an ounce.