Asian shares get a lift from Wall Street, Ukraine progress

Tags: Stock Market
Asian stocks got a lift on Tuesday from an upbeat day on Wall Street, while the dollar got some help as US Treasury yields pulled away from recent lows on upbeat US housing data and hopes of progress in the Ukraine crisis.

Foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France gathered in Berlin over the weekend to discuss talks for a ceasefire or a political solution, and Russia's Foreign Ministry said on Monday a 'certain progress' was achieved during the talks.

Still, investors continued to cautiously monitor developments. Military spokesmen said dozens of people, including women and children, were killed as they fled fighting on Monday when their convoy of buses leaving the rebel-held city of Luhansk was hit by rocket fire.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1% in early trade, while Japan's Nikkei stock average added 0.8%.

US stocks marked solid gains on Monday as the Ukraine situation showed signs of stabilization. The Nasdaq Composite topped the key 4,500 mark for the first time since March 2000.

US homebuilder sentiment rose in August to its highest since January, the National Association of Home Builders said on Monday, marking a third straight monthly gain and beating the mean estimate of analysts polled by Reuters.

The data helped US Treasury yields pull away from recent lows, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year US Treasury note at 2.394% in Asia, compared with its US close of 2.387% on Monday. It dropped as low as 2.30% on Friday, its lowest since June 2013.

Later in the week, investors will be keeping a close eye on Wednesday's release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's July policy meeting as well as comments from the Fed's summit in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which starts on Thursday.

"Some Fed officials have been talking about the need for an earlier rate hike so investors will also be looking to see if there is a more hawkish bias to the FOMC minutes," said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management.

Janet Yellen is slated to speak on Friday, her first Jackson Hole appearance at the helm of the US central bank.

The dollar bought 102.63 yen, up about 0.1%, while the euro edged down to $1.3359, not far from this month's nine-month low of $1.3333. Against the safe-haven yen, the euro rose slightly to 137.09.

The dollar index, which tracks the US unit against a basket of rivals, edged up to 81.598.

In commodities trading, spot gold steadied on the day at $1,297.84 an ounce but remained below the $1,300 level against the backdrop of improved risk sentiment.

US crude added about 0.3% to $96.70 ahead of the September contract's expiration on Wednesday. Brent crude edged up about 0.1% to $101.71 after shedding nearly $2 a barrel overnight to its lowest price in over a year.

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