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Asia stock markets start data-heavy week with gains

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SINGAPORE: Asian shares turned positive on Monday, shrugging off a new North Korean missile test as investors turned their attention to a raft of global economic data and earnings this week, while the dollar crept up but remained capped by US political concerns.


European stocks look set for a muted start, with financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expecting Britain’s FTSE 100, Germany’s DAX and France’s CAC 40 to all open little changed.


MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan reversed early losses to rise 0.25 per cent.


Chinese shares rose, buoyed by several leading companies’ forecasts for strong mid-year earnings. The blue-chip index and the Shanghai Composite both rose 0.6 per cent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1 per cent to a two-year high.


That strong performance came despite a slip in official Chinese manufacturing and services purchasing managers’ indices in July, although they stayed above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis.


Investors remained wary after North Korea conducted a missile test late on Friday that it said proved its ability to strike the US mainland. The US responded by flying two bombers over the Korean peninsula on Sunday.


But early jitters dissipated somewhat, with the Korean won reversing losses. The dollar was down 0.2 per cent at 1,120.7 won, after jumping almost 0.7 per cent on Friday. South Korea’s KOSPI fell 0.2 per cent.


Australian shares advanced 0.7 per cent.


The perceived safe-haven Japanese yen strengthened, with the dollar shedding 0.15 per cent to 110.545 yen, touching its weakest since mid-June.


“The geopolitical overhang will likely keep topside moves in check early in the week as the disorganised US and China policy towards North Korea is not helping matters,” Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trading at OANDA, wrote in a note.


Japan’s Nikkei was flat, with the firm yen offsetting news the country’s industrial output rebounded in June from a decline in May.


On Wall Street on Friday, the S&P and Nasdaq indexes fell after earnings from companies including Amazon, Exxon Mobil and Starbucks disappointed.


But the Dow closed higher and set an intra-day record, lifted by Chevron’s strong earnings.


US corporate results overall have come in better than expected for the second quarter. More than halfway through reporting season, S&P 500 companies are on track to have increased earnings by 10.8 per cent, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.


S&P E-mini futures were down almost 0.1 per cent on Monday.


The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major peers, edged up 0.15 per cent to 93.396, after Friday’s 0.6 per cent decline.


Markets are awaiting speeches by Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester and San Francisco Fed President John Williams on Tuesday, for further insight into whether the central bank has turned more dovish in light of recently muted inflation.


“It is easy for uncertainty to increase about the Fed’s ability to raise rates next year if inflation remains low. We could see the dollar head below 110.00 yen under such circumstances,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior forex strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.


Investors will also be keeping a close eye on data including euro zone core inflation for July on Monday; the Reserve Bank of Australia’s rate decision, at which it is expected to stay on hold, and US manufacturing conditions, due Tuesday; the Reserve Bank of India’s meeting on Wednesday, at which it is expected to cut rates; and Bank of England on Thursday, where it is likely to leave rates unchanged.


A raft of private manufacturing surveys will also be released on Tuesday.


The euro retreated slightly to $1.17385, pulling back from Friday’s 0.6 per cent gain.


Gold was little changed at $1,268.26 an ounce, after earlier climbing to its highest since June 14. — Reuters


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