Asia stocks supported; falling dollar a burden for Nikkei

Sun Feb 16, 2014 6:42pm EST
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By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian markets could take heart on Monday after Wall Street managed to look past more soft U.S. data, though Japanese stocks will be pressured by a stronger yen as the dollar loses altitude.

Turnover is likely to be thinned with U.S. markets closed for Presidents' Day, but Australian shares set the early tone with a rise of 0.4 percent .AXJO. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS added 0.2 percent, having bounced 5 percent in seven sessions.

The Nikkei .N225 may not fare as well since the dollar had slipped under 102 yen to hover at 101.74 on Monday. A stronger yen is viewed as negative for Japanese exports and corporate profits, and often prompts knee-jerk selling in shares.

In contrast, a lower dollar tends to be positive for commodities priced in that currency, helping lift gold to near a three-month peak at $1,319.89.

The main data on Monday will be Japan's gross domestic product (GDP) report, which is forecast to show annualized growth of 2.8 percent for the fourth quarter.

On Wall Street, the Dow .DJI ended Friday up 0.79 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.48 percent. The MSCI global stock index .MIWD00000PUS climbed 0.5 percent on Friday, bringing its gains to 5 percent in eight sessions.

The gains came despite a disappointing reading on U.S. industrial output, with markets seemingly content to put much of the weakness down to bad weather.

For equity investors, the run of soft figures recently has a silver lining in that it lessens the risk of the Federal Reserve   Continued...

An office worker walks past the board of the Australian Securities Exchange building displaying its logo in central Sydney April 5, 2013. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz