Asia stocks inch higher, sterling and euro steady ahead of Brexit talks – Reuters.com

Asia stocks inch higher, sterling and euro steady ahead of Brexit talks – Reuters.com

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SINGAPORE Asian stocks began the week modestly higher on Monday after Wall Street offered little guidance, while sterling and the euro steadied before the start of talks over the terms of Britain’s exit from the European Union.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.2 percent in early trading.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 rose 0.6 percent.

Australian shares and South Korea’s KOSPI .KS11 both jumped 0.5 percent.

“Investors in the Asia-Pacific region face a mixed and modest outlook to begin the trading week,” Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, wrote in a note. “European and U.S. share markets finished with gains for the day and week, but lower commodity prices and a weakening USD may weigh on markets in early trading.”

On Friday, Wall Street ended mixed, with energy names offsetting declines in consumer stocks, which were clobbered by Amazon.com’s deal to buy upscale grocer Whole Foods Market.

The S&P 500 index .SPX closed flat, the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI ended up 0.1 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC lost 0.2 percent.

Europe, however, had a more upbeat session on Friday, with British .FTSE, German .GDAXI and French .FCHI stocks, as well as the broader STOXX Europe 600 all closing higher.

In currencies, sterling GBP=D3 was fractionally lower at $1.2772 from late Friday levels in New York, but was more or less steady after London police reported casualties after a van collided with pedestrians near Finsbury Park station early on Monday.

The euro EUR=EBS inched up slightly to $1.1204.

Brexit Secretary David Davis starts negotiations in Brussels on Monday, which will be followed by a Brussels summit on Thursday and Friday where British Prime Minister Theresa May will encounter – but not negotiate with – fellow EU leaders.

Davis’s agreement to Monday’s agenda led some EU officials to believe that May’s government may at last be coming around to Brussels’ view of how negotiations should be run.

Polls showing a strong parliamentary majority for French President Emmanuel Macron following Sunday’s vote, giving him a powerful mandate to push through his pro-business reforms, also supported the euro.

The dollar was subdued after U.S. homebuilding fell for a third month in May to the lowest in eight months and a barometer of U.S. consumer sentiment unexpectedly fell in early June, prompting concerns about the Federal Reserve’s plans to stick with its monetary policy tightening.

The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six global peers, was unchanged at 97.169, failing to make up any of Friday’s 0.3 percent loss.

It fared better against the Japanese yen JPY=D4, which remained weak after the Bank of Japan left its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged last week.

Data on Monday showing Japanese exports rose at their fastest pace in May since January 2015 failed to lift the yen.

The dollar added 0.1 percent to 111.01 yen JPY=, after touching a two-week high on Friday.

In commodities, oil futures lingered near six-week lows, as concerns about a supply glut continued to weigh.

U.S. crude CLc1 slipped 0.25 percent to $44.65 a barrel, while global benchmark Brent LCOc1 dropped 0.2 percent to $47.29.

Gold crept higher but struggled to recover from the 3-1/2-week low touched on Friday. Spot gold XAU= was up 0.1 percent at $1,255.04 an ounce.

(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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