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Asia stocks edge up on firmer Wall Street, pound nurses losses

Posted by: Admin | Posted on: May 29th, 2017 | 0 Comments

TOKYO Asian stocks edged up on Monday, taking cues from Wall Street shares hovering around record highs, while the pound nursed losses after a poll showed a shrinking lead for Prime Minister Theresa May’s party in Britain’s upcoming elections. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was a touch higher.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 edged up 0.2 percent while Australian shares dipped 0.4 percent. China’s markets are closed on Monday and Tuesday for a holiday.

Brushing aside a North Korean missile launch, South Korea’s KOSPI .KS11 added 0.4 percent to touch a record high. It was on track for its seventh straight day of gains.

Pyongyang fired what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile early on Monday.

“There are not many negative factors in the market for the KOSPI, and demand seems still strong enough to push the index up a bit more,” said Kim Ji-hyung, a stock analyst at Hanyang Securities.

On Friday, the SP 500 .SPX and Nasdaq .IXIC scraped to record closing highs on strength in consumer shares. [.N]

The dollar index against a basket of major currencies was steady at 97.487 .DXY after rising on Friday thanks to upbeat U.S. gross domestic product data.

The index fell to a 6-1/2-month low below 97.00 a week ago on U.S. political concerns centered on President Donald Trump, but have since crept back.

The dollar and U.S. stocks would face downward risks if trouble for the Trump administration becomes a long-term concern, said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities.

“That said, the possibility of the president actually being impeached remains very low, and any negative pressure on U.S. stocks has been limited so far.”

The greenback added 0.1 percent to 111.410 yen JPY=, with the safe-haven Japanese currency showing little reaction to North Korea’s missile launch.

“While the North Korean situation remains tense, the market has gotten used to missile launches, with broader volatility also declining,” said Shusuke Yamada, senior strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch in Tokyo.

“The U.S. markets will also be shut today, and that is curbing incentive and restricting overall movements as well.”

U.S. markets will be closed on Monday for Memorial Day.

The pound was a shade higher at $1.2820 GBP=D4 after dropping more than 1 percent on Friday to as low as $1.2775.

Sterling suffered its steepest fall since January on Friday after an opinion poll showed the governing Conservatives’ lead over the Labour opposition down to just 5 percentage points with less than two weeks before a general election.

The euro declined 0.1 percent to $1.1166 EUR=. The common currency had soared to a 5-1/2-month high of $1.1268 last week on factors including relief at the French presidential election outcome, but it has failed to make further headway.

South Africa’s rand was turbulent after reports President Jacob Zuma defeated a no-confidence motion against him.

The rand went to a two-month high of 12.65 per dollar ZAR=D3 before pulling back to 12.83.

Crude oil prices slipped, their modest recovery from disappointment over last week’s OPEC meeting sputtering out on the back of a relentless rise in U.S. drilling. [O/R]

Oil suffered a big drop last week after an OPEC-led decision to extend production curbs did not go as far as many investors had hoped.

U.S. crude CLc1 was down 1 cent at $49.79 a barrel, having slumped to as low as $48.18 on Friday. Brent was flat at $52.15 a barrel LCOc1.

Spot gold XAU= hovered close to a near four-week high of $1,269.50 an ounce hit on Friday, led higher by investors who feared political risks. [GOL/]

(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Eric Meijer and Kim Coghill)

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