Asia shares up on North Korea reprieve, dollar back in doldrums


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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Asian stocks edged up on Thursday as tensions between the U.S. and North Korea came off the boil, while worries about President Donald Trump’s ability to implement his pro-growth agenda and the Federal Reserve’s concerns about low U.S. inflation hit the dollar.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS added 0.3 percent in early trade.

Japan’s Nikkei .N225 slipped 0.1 percent, weighed down by the yen’s strength.

South Korean shares .KS11 advanced 0.1 percent after the leaders of both North Korea and the United States appeared to back off from their heated rhetoric from last week.

Trump on Wednesday praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Un for a “wise” decision not to fire missiles toward the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, after North Korean media reported that Kim had delayed to decision while he waited to see what the U.S. did next.

While that helped Wall Street close in positive territory overnight, concerns on the home front left the dollar in the doldrums.

Trump announced the disbanding of two high-profile business advisory councils on Wednesday after eight executives quit in protest over his remarks blaming weekend violence in Virginia not only on white nationalists but also on anti-racism activists who opposed them.

Moreover, minutes from the Fed’s July meeting released on Wednesday showed the central bank grew more wary about recent weak inflation, with some policymakers wanting to halt interest rate hikes until it was clear the trend was temporary.

“The Federal Open Market Committee minutes confirmed one thing, which is that the committee members are not on the same page and there is no clear date when the Fed will initiate the process of reducing the size of the balance sheet,” Naeem Aslam, chief market analyst at Think Markets in London, wrote in a note.

“Trump dissolving his major business groups makes the investment community even more pessimistic because this sets the stage for even more failure for him,”

The dollar fell 0.1 percent to 110.04 yen JPY= in early trade, extending Wednesday’s 0.4 percent slide.

The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major peers, was marginally lower at 93.501 after Wednesday’s 0.3 percent loss.

The euro EUR=EBS was steady at $1.1767, adding to its 0.3 percent gain overnight, after the euro zone’s second-quarter growth was revised to 2.2 percent from a year earlier, from 2.1 percent previously.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP, which has surged over $1,500 this month on speculative demand for the digital currency, retained most of those gains on Thursday.

It was about 0.2 percent lower at $4,368.73, within a whisker of its all-time high of $4,400 touched earlier this week.

In commodities, oil prices edged up but remained close to a 3-1/2 week low touched on Wednesday as rising U.S. production offset a decline in stockpiles by the most in a year.

U.S. crude CLc1 was about 0.1 percent higher at $46.85 a barrel, failing to make up Wednesday’s 1.6 percent slide.

Global benchmark Brent LCOc1 gained 0.25 percent to $50.41, after the previous session’s 1 percent drop.

Industrial metals held gains following their surge overnight, underpinned by expectations of strong global demand and tight supplies.

Benchmark zinc on the London Metal Exchange CMZN3 was up 0.1 percent from its previous close at $3,121 a ton, having touched a decade-high of $3,132.50 overnight.

London copper CMCU3 gained 0.2 percent to $6,541 a ton, after hitting $6,576.50, its highest level since November 2014, overnight.

Gold XAU= crept up 0.1 percent to $1,283.61 an ounce, adding to Wednesday’s 0.9 percent jump.

Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Shri Navaratnam

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