Asia stocks edge up on tech shares, U.S. inflation data awaited

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TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks edged up on Tuesday with technology shares buoyed by gains in their Wall Street peers, but gains were limited ahead of U.S. inflation data later in the day which could offer clues on the pace of interest rate rises this year.

FILE PHOTO – A man walks past an electronic stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Spreadbetters expected a slightly lower start for European stocks, with Britain’s FTSE .FTSE dipping 0.1 percent, Germany’s DAX .GDAXI inching down 0.05 percent and France’s CAC .FCHI shedding 0.07 percent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.2 percent after spending much of the day swerving in and out of negative territory.

The index had surged 1.5 percent on Monday following firm U.S. jobs numbers on Friday, while low wage growth eased concerns about inflation and faster central bank rate hikes.

But a mixed performance by U.S. shares overnight tempered the rally.

The S&P 500 .SPX and the Dow .DJI slipped on Monday as the U.S. tariffs signed into law last week weighed on industrials, while a rise in tech stocks boosted the Nasdaq .IXIC to a new record high. [.N]

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 recouped earlier losses and rose 0.7 percent, with gains in chip-related technology shares helping offset losses in steelmakers and automakers still weighed by concerns about U.S. tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Shanghai dipped 0.1 percent .SSEC.

Tech-heavy South Korean .KS11 and Taiwan .TWII shares advanced 0.15 percent and 0.85 percent, respectively.

“Concerns towards trade conflict stemming from U.S. tariffs continue to linger in the background, capping risk appetite, pushing Treasury yields lower which in turn weighing on the dollar,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

“That said, there are still bright spots that bode well for broader risk sentiment, as the Nasdaq’s gains shows.”

Separately, U.S. President Donald Trump on Monday blocked Singapore-based semiconductor maker Broadcom Ltd’s (AVGO.O) takeover bid of Qualcomm Inc (QCOM.O) on grounds of national security, ending what would have been the technology industry’s biggest deal ever.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies rose 0.1 percent to 89.999 .DXY after shedding about 0.2 percent overnight.

The euro was little changed at $1.2329 EUR= after gaining 0.25 percent overnight.

The U.S. currency was up 0.3 percent at 106.740 yen JPY=, trimming some losses after a suspected cover-up of a cronyism scandal put Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe and his close ally, Finance Minister Taro Aso, under fresh pressure.

Although such doubts have lent support to the yen, the concerns over Japanese political risks have had a relatively minor effect on wider markets so far, said Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia-Pacific for Oanda in Singapore.

“I’m not sure if that’s going to be enough to get us out of this current little risk revival mode that the market is in,” Innes said.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield US10YT=RR stood little changed at 2.879 percent. The yield declined by 2.5 basis points overnight.

In commodities, crude oil prices extended losses after sliding the previous day amid ongoing concerns over rising U.S. output. [O/R]

U.S. crude futures CLc1 lost 3 cents to $61.32 per barrel after losing 68 cents the previous day. Brent LCOc1 dipped 2 cents to $64.93 per barrel.

Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Singapore; Editing by Sam Holmes and Kim Coghill

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