Asian stocks set for modest gains; dollar slips

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SYDNEY (Aug 23): Asian stocks looked set for small gains at the start of trading Thursday, while the dollar retreated after the Federal Reserve signaled no change to the pace of monetary policy tightening.

Futures on equity indexes in Japan, Hong Kong and Australia all nudged higher after U.S. stocks ended the day little changed. The dollar weakened a fifth day and the 10-year Treasury yield fell to 2.82 percent after the Fed indicated in meeting minutes a readiness to hike again if the economy stays on track. Oil jumped after a U.S. government report showed the biggest decline in crude inventories since late July.

Markets largely shrugged off the legal drama engulfing President Donald Trump and U.S. stocks remain close to all-time highs amid double-digit corporate profit growth. With benchmark Treasury yields holding below 3 percent, investors now look to comments from Fed chairman Jerome Powell later this week when he speaks at a meeting of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Elsewhere, the Mexican peso gained after a White House official suggested a Nafta deal was near. Emerging-market shares rallied.

Here are some key events coming up this week:

* Companies announcing earnings include Alibaba and China’s Bank of Communications.

* Central bankers gather at the Kansas City Fed’s annual Jackson Hole symposium, where Powell speaks Friday.

* Euro area preliminary PMI data for August is due on Thursday.

These are the main moves in markets:

* Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent. 

* Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.3 percent. 

* Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index rose 0.3 percent. 

* Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index climbed 0.3 percent. 

* The S&P 500 Index fell less than 0.1 percent.

Currencies

* The yen was at 110.57 per dollar. 

* The offshore yuan was steady at 6.8462 per dollar. 

* The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index decreased 0.2 percent, its fifth straight decline, the longest streak in six months.

* The euro bought $1.1597.

Bonds

* The yield on 10-year Treasuries fell one basis point to 2.82 percent.

Commodities

* The Bloomberg Commodity Index advanced 0.2 percent.

* West Texas Intermediate crude rose 3.5 percent to $68.11 a barrel. 

* Gold was steady at $1,196.56 an ounce.