Asian equities steady Friday after rise


  • Business
  • Friday, 30 Sep 2011

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asian stocks steadied on Friday with big gains unlikely as investors looked to take profits after three days of gains, while the euro held its tiny increase following Germany's approval to expand the euro zone bailout fund.

As the curtains come down on the September quarter, the worst for equities since the final quarter of 2008, investors are nursing their losses across all asset classes with traders eager to take profits to spruce up battered portfolios.

In early Asian trade, stocks in Japan and Australia edged higher while Seoul was broadly unchanged.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan was flat after rising for three consecutive days. For the month, it is down around 13 percent, its biggest monthly drop since October 2008.

Even a rare batch of strong economic data from the U.S. failed to cheer sentiment in Asia with traders focusing on China's September PMI data to gauge how the world's export powerhouse is holding up in the face of a slowing global economy.

Key indices in the U.S. closed between 0.8 to 1.3 percent higher with U.S. stock futures in Asia holding on to overnight gains.

In currencies, the euro hovered above a eight-month low versus the dollar after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition party voted on Thursday to enhance the European Financial Stability Facility's powers.

Having worked through to $1.3679 at one stage, the single currency settled back at $1.3585 with investors worried about the many problems ahead for the euro zone.

"There is still a lot of uncertainty... Economic growth in Europe and the U.S. is not that good and that will put pressure on the euro and give a bid to the dollar," said Joseph Capurso, strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Worried investors gave the thumbs up to safe-haven bets like gold and Treasuries with the former extending gains slightly to hold $1,622 per ounce.

U.S. crude futures rose more than $1 to as high as $83.17 a barrel in electronic trade on Friday, extending Thursday's gains.

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