Asian stocks eke out gains, dollar nears a nine-month high
EghtesadOnline: Asian stocks eked out gains but lacked clear direction on Monday after Wall Street's sluggish performance late last week, while the dollar hit a near nine-month high as comments from a Federal Reserve official boosted bets of a rate hike by year-end.
Spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE .FTSE, Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC .FCHI to open slightly higher.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS inched up 0.2 percent, according to Reuters.
South Korea's Kospi .KS11 gained 0.4 percent. Australian stocks lost 0.5 percent, hurt by a decline in energy shares.
Japan's Nikkei .N225 moved in a tight range and was last up 0.2 percent.
"There are few investors who want to chase the market higher until they see more news from overseas, especially those regarding a U.S. rate hike," said Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.
Shanghai .SSEC outperformed, rising over 1 percent as energy and raw material stocks jumped on indications that government measures to slash production capacity had shown signs of some success.
The optimism spread to Hong Kong, but gains in the Hang Sang .HSI were limited by concerns over continued yuan weakness, as well as a possible U.S. rate hike. [.SS]
On Friday in Wall Street, the S&P 500 .SPX and the Dow .DJI were little changed and the Nasdaq.IXIC advanced as a record day for Microsoft (MSFT.O) and earnings from McDonald's (MCD.N) helped offset a fall in energy and healthcare shares. [.N]
"It will be something of a hiatus week, given that next week brings the BoJ, Fed and BoE meetings...however there is a heavily back-loaded run of data in the U.S., Japan and euro zone, and there will be a deluge of U.S. and indeed European and Asian corporate earnings," wrote Marc Ostwald, strategist at ADM Investor Services International.
Global markets are bracing for a slew of data this week including consumer price data from Japan and some euro zone countries, third quarter U.S. GDP and a number of purchasing managers' index (PMI) data from developed economies.
In currencies, the dollar index .DXY was up 0.1 percent at 98.780 after touching 98.846, its highest since Feb. 3.
The U.S. currency received a boost last week as the euro slid after the European Central Bank doused talk it was contemplating tapering its monetary easing.
The dollar was also supported by hawkish comments from Fed officials including New York Fed President William Dudley and higher expectations that Hillary Clinton will win the U.S. presidential election, which have increased bets that the Fed will raise rates in December.
The dollar was steady at 103.905 yen JPY=. The euro slipped 0.2 percent to $1.0869 EUR= after falling on Friday to $1.0859, its lowest since March 10.
The Australian dollar was steady at $0.7614 AUD=D4.
The offshore Chinese yuan CNH=D3 hit a new six-year low against a broadly stronger dollar.
"The PBOC is seen strategically managing the yuan's weakness," said Jeong My-young, Samsung Futures research head in Seoul, referring to the People's Bank of China.
Crude oil prices slipped on concerns supply will outweigh demand, with U.S. crude CLc1 down 0.6 percent at $50.55 a barrel.
The contracts had risen about 0.8 percent on Friday on hopes that Russia and OPEC would reach a price agreement, but worries of oversupply have been a persistent drag on the market.
But oil fell Monday after Iraq said it wanted to be exempt from any deal by OPEC to cut production. Latest data also showed that U.S. oil rig count posted the first double-digit rise since August, weighing on the market.
Brent crude LCOc1 was down 0.5 percent at $51.54 a barrel.