MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan inched
down 0.1 percent.
Japan's Nikkei stock average, one of the few major stock markets
that traded on Friday, edged up 0.5 percent.
Global markets have been buffeted in recent weeks by tensions in
Ukraine, signs of slowing growth in China and uncertainty over when
the U.S. Federal Reserve would start to tighten interest rates.
Fed Chair Janet Yellen's dovish comments last week helped soothe
The dollar edged up to a two-week high against the yen after data
showed Japan posting its largest ever trade deficit in the year
through March 2014.
The dollar rose to 102.63 yen, it's highest point since April 8, and
remained well bid after upbeat U.S. factory data and jobless claims
late last week.
Analysts said signs that the U.S. economy had shaken off disruptions
caused by harsh winter weather would help the U.S. currency in the
"With momentum building behind the U.S. industrial cycle, tentative
signs of wage-based pressure building, and further labor market
improvements likely, falling U.S. rates are unlikely to continue to
be a major driver of dollar weakness," strategists at Barclays said
in a note to clients.
The encouraging U.S. data saw the 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield
spike on Friday to a 10-day peak of 2.726 percent, pulling back
sharply from a six-week trough of 2.596 percent hit earlier last
[to top of second column]
Support for the safe-haven Japanese currency also ebbed last week
after the United States, Russia, Ukraine and the European Union
called for an immediate halt to violence.
However, a tensions in Ukraine is expected to underpin the yen in
the short term, traders said.
At least three people were killed in a gunfight in the early hours
of Sunday near a Ukrainian city controlled by pro-Russian
separatists, shaking an already fragile international accord that
was designed to avert a wider conflict.
The euro at $1.3812, little changed from last week. It hit a
2-1/2-year high near $1.40 in the middle of March, but has since
gone on the defensive after a number of European Central Bank
officials have expressed concerns about the common currency's
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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