Investors remained cautious, however, reflecting geopolitical
jitters and the torrent of U.S. economic news due to come this week,
including a Federal Reserve meeting and GDP data on Wednesday and
non-farm payrolls figures on Friday.
The dollar shuffled sideways on bets all that will add up to the Fed
hiking interest rates early next year, while European shares saw
minor gains after another jump in Chinese stocks had lifted Asia
equities to a new three-year high.
Wall Street was expected to see another subdued start but the mood
was easier after Russian stocks steadied, having been dumped in
recent days in anticipation of broader European economic sanctions.
"The initial fear (of Russia/West tensions) is not really there any
more," said Rabobank economist Philip Marey.
"So now we are looking at the usual suspects: how strong is the euro
zone recovery? How strong is the U.S. recovery? And what does it
mean for the central banks?"
EU diplomats will hold more talks on Tuesday to try to forge an
agreement on the final shape of the measures, set to target capital
markets, defense, and sensitive technologies key to some of Russia's
Although Moscow stocks were calmer, fears this may not be the last
wave of sanctions for a Russian economy already facing the risk of
recession continued to drag on the rouble and some of Russia's
German government bonds also hit new historic highs, with their
safe-haven appeal augmented by expectations they will remain
attractive compared to near zero ECB interest rates in the next few
Japan became the latest country to confirm it was putting the
squeeze on Moscow, saying it would "freeze assets of individuals and
groups who are judged to be directly involved in Crimean annexation
and the instability in the east of Ukraine".
In a move that helped nudge the yen lower, Russia hit back on
Tuesday saying the measures were "unfriendly" and would harm
relations between the two countries.
Action was otherwise lacking among the major currencies. The dollar
held close to a six-month peak against a basket of its peers, having
gone virtually nowhere as investors kept to the sidelines ahead of
the Fed's policy meeting.
The U.S. central bank is sure to cut its monthly bond-buying program
by another $10 billion as it prepares to wind up the scheme later in
the year, but markets will focus on any clues to the timing of its
first interest rate hike.
[to top of second column]
With other key data such as U.S. gross domestic product and the
closely watched non-farm payrolls report still to come, investors
were content to sit on their hands.
The New Zealand dollar was the main loser in the developed world,
weighed down by further signs of trouble in the countryís
influential dairy sector, while the euro was pinned near an
eight-month trough of $1.3421 set on Friday.
It traded at $1.3434, having shuffled between $1.3430 and $1.3440.
Against the yen, the dollar briefly touched 102, while the common
currency barely budged at 136.98.
In commodities, gold was idling at $1,308 after a very quiet 24
hours saw it hold to an $8 range. Oil barely budged, with Brent at
$107.53 a barrel and U.S. crude futures at $101.45.
China shares had continued their charge overnight led by banks
stocks after a Reuters report said the country's fifth-biggest bank
by assets planned to seek more private investors.
The CSI300 index of leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-shares added 0.5
percent, bringing its gains to almost 8 percent in seven sessions
and lifting it to a 2014 high.
That in turn pushed MSCI's emerging market index to a three-year
high and kept the All World benchmark within reach of this month's
"The thing everybody is asking at the moment is when the market is
going to pull back," said Randy Frederick a managing director at
U.S. investment firm Charles Schwab.
"But with the current low volatility people arenít waiting for a 5
or a 10 percent correction, even if there is a 1 percent dip they
come right back in and start buying again."
(Editing by Catherine Evans)
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