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Asia: Stocks subdued, US dollar hovers near 9-month high


[TOKYO] Asian stocks were subdued early on Monday after Wall Street's sluggish performance at the end of last week, while the US dollar hovered near nine-month highs as fresh comments from a Federal Reserve official boosted bets of a rate hike by year-end.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched down 0.1 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei stood little changed, while South Korea's Kospi gained 0.4 per cent.

On Friday in Wall Street, the S&P 500 and the Dow were little changed and the Nasdaq advanced as a record day for Microsoft and earnings from McDonald's helped offset a fall in energy and healthcare shares.

Market voices on:

"It will be something of a hiatus week, given that next week brings the BOJ, Fed and BOE meetings... however there is a heavily back-loaded run of data in the US, Japan and Eurozone, and there will be a deluge of US and indeed European and Asian corporate earnings," wrote Marc Ostwald, strategist at ADM Investor Services International.

Global markets are bracing for a slew of data this week including consumer prices data from Japan and some euro zone countries, third quarter US GDP and a number of purchasing managers' index (PMI) data from developed economies.

In currencies, the US dollar index was steady at 98.657, not far from 98.813, its highest since Feb 3 struck on Friday.

The US currency received a boost last week as the euro slid after the European Central Bank doused talk it was contemplating tapering its monetary easing.

The US dollar was also supported by hawkish comments from Fed officials including New York Fed President William Dudley and higher expectations that Hillary Clinton will win the US presidential election, which have increased bets that the Fed will raise rates in December.

The US dollar was flat at 103.890 yen. The euro was nearly unchanged at US$1.0883 after falling on Friday to US$1.0859, its lowest since March 10.

The Australian dollar was down 0.1 per cent at US$0.7605.

Crude oil prices slipped on concerns supply will outweigh demand, with US crude down 0.4 per cent at US$50.64 a barrel.

The contracts had risen about 0.8 per cent on Friday on hopes that Russia and Opec would reach a price agreement, but worries of oversupply have been a persistent drag on the market.

Latest data showed that US oil rig count posted the first double-digit rise since August.

Brent crude was down 0.35 per cent at US$51.60 a barrel.