Asia stocks begin new quarter on modest gains, dollar steady

Asia stocks begin new quarter on modest gains, dollar steady

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks began the new quarter on Monday with modest gains following a strong performance by global equities last week, while the dollar held steady ahead of key economic indicators.

Many major financial centers were closed for the Good Friday Easter holiday. Markets in Australia, Hong Kong, Britain and Germany remained shut on Monday while the U.S. market will resume trading.

China on Monday imposed tariffs on U.S. products including frozen pork, wine and certain fruits and nuts in response to U.S. duties on imports of aluminum and steel.

MSCI’s world equity index ended up 1.2 percent last week. But it lost about 1.5 percent in the first quarter, pushed away from record highs as tensions over global trade escalated, turmoil in the White House deepened and market-leading technology firms wobbled on fears of regulation and other issues.

In currencies, the dollar was steady at 106.350 yen, while the euro was almost unchanged at $1.2317.

The greenback had gained about 0.6 percent against a basket of six major currencies last week helped by a combination of factors including perceived progress on North Korea issues.

U.S. data due this week include Monday’s Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index, Wednesday’s ISM non-manufacturing index and the non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Crude oil prices extended gains, lifted by a drop in U.S. drilling activity as well as by expectations that the United States could re-introduce sanctions against Iran. [O/R]

U.S. drillers cut seven oil rigs in the week to March 29, bringing the total count down to 797. It was the first time in three weeks that the rig-count fell.

U.S. crude futures rose 0.3 percent to $65.14 a barrel and Brent advanced 0.5 percent to $69.67 a barrel.

“Investors took their cue from falling U.S drilling counts,” Wang Xiao, head of crude oil research with Guotai Junan Futures said.

“But increasing trade friction between China and U.S. is likely to rock global markets and tarnish bullish sentiment in crude oil markets.”

 

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