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Asia: Shares shrug off energy blues after Wall Street records

[TOKYO] Asian shares rose on Tuesday, tracking record closes on Wall Street and upbeat economic data that lifted US Treasury yields and the dollar, although weaker oil prices took their toll on some market segments.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.4 percent higher, clawing back losses from earlier in the Asian day.

Japan's Nikkei stock index added 0.8 per cent, as a tailwind from a weaker yen helped it sail to its highest levels since August 2015.

Australian shares slipped 0.4 per cent, pressured by consumer and energy shares, as investors awaited the Reserve Bank of Australia's (RBA) policy decision at 0330 GMT. The energy index skidded 1 per cent in line with weaker crude prices.

The central bank is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold at a record low of 1.5 per cent with the focus on its assessment of the economy and how that could impact is monetary policy.

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Crude oil futures extended losses after tumbling on Monday, as a rise in US drilling and higher Opec output put the brakes on their recent rally and rekindled concerns about oversupply.

Brent crude slipped 0.4 per cent to US$55.88 a barrel, after marking a third-quarter gain of about 20 per cent.

US crude fell 0.3 per cent to US$50.42. "The fourth quarter is not too kind to the price of oil, as we switch from summer demand to expectations of winter demand,"said Jonathan Barratt, chief investment officer at Ayers Alliance in Sydney.

On Wall Street on Monday, US stocks started the fourth quarter on a strong note, with all three major indexes closing at record highs after data underscored strength in the economy.

A measure of US manufacturing activity surged to a near 13-1/2-year high in September. Disruptions to the supply chains caused by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma resulted in factories taking longer to deliver goods and boosted raw material prices.

The Institute for Supply Management index rose to 60.8 in September, from 58.8 in August, exceeding expectations for a reading of 58.

US construction spending also rebounded in August after two straight months of declines, boosted by increases in both private and public outlays.

The dollar stood tall, hoisted by rising US Treasury yields.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year note hit its highest since mid-July on Monday after the upbeat data reinforced expectations that the Federal Reserve will increase US interest rates in December for a third time this year. "There are strengthening expectations about what the Fed will do for the balance of the year, namely one more rate increase and balance sheet reduction," said Bill Northey, chief investment officer at US Bank Private Client Group in Helena, Montana.

Due to the impact of the recent hurricanes, Mr Northey said,"we're going to get some data anomalies over the next few months, but as you step back and take a broader context around trends that exist right now, it is clear the US economy is performing very well, and it will continue to be on an improving path."

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, added 0.3 per cent to 93.840, nudging up to its highest levels since late August.

The euro eased 0.2 per cent to US$1.1710, facing pressure from Spain's biggest constitutional crisis in decades, after Sunday's violence-marred independence referendum in Catalonia opened the door for its wealthiest region to move for secession as early as this week.

The dollar added 0.3 per cent against its Japanese counterpart to 113.08 yen, within sight of last week's two-month high of 113.26 yen.

Proposed US tax code changes as well as the possibility that US President Donald Trump will appoint a more hawkish Fed Chair also gave the dollar a lift.

Spot gold edged down slightly to US$1,270.29 per ounce, after plumbing its lowest in nearly seven weeks on Monday as the dollar rose.


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