Asian shares up slightly

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IOL pic feb25 yellow green market arrows . File photo: Filomena Scalise

Tokyo - Asian shares inched forward and the yen slipped in early trade on Tuesday after Crimea's vote to join Russia passed relatively peacefully, but investors remained wary ahead of this week's US Federal Reserve policy review.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added about 0.2 percent in early trading, while Australian shares rose 0.6 percent.

On Wall Street on Monday, US stocks turned in a solid performance, with the S&P 500 rising about 1 percent.

The United States and the European Union imposed sanctions, including asset freezes and travel bans, on a small group of officials from Russia and Ukraine after the weekend referendum.

Risk appetite improved as the threat of immediate military conflict receded for now, and market participants turned their attention back to the US economic outlook and the conclusion of the Fed's two-day meeting on Wednesday.

“The Federal Open Market Committee meeting will prove the main event for investors focused on central bank monetary policies,” strategists at UBS said in a note to clients.

“But geo-political risk also suggests that longer-term dollar bulls should not shift their underlying views on future greenback strength,” they added.

The Fed is expected to continue to stick to reducing its monthly asset purchases by an additional $10 billion, and could also alter its forward guidance in its statement.

Fed policymakers could adopt less specific language to describe conditions under which it might tighten policy, instead of the bank's current threshold of a 6.5 percent unemployment rate for considering a rate rise. The rate now stands at 6.7 percent, though Fed officials are still signalling that rates need to stay low for some time to support the economy.

The dollar was up about 0.1 percent on the day at 101.85 yen , while the euro also added about 0.1 percent to 141.82 yen.

The euro was steady $1.3926, within sight of a 2-1/2-year high around $1.3967 touched on Thursday.

The single currency's resilience came despite data on Monday showing a dip in euro zone inflation, the latest indicator to back the view that the European Central Bank needs to take further monetary steps to support growth.

The improvement in risk sentiment took a toll on gold , which hit a six-month high on Monday before plunging more than 1 percent. It was last at $1,366.19 per ounce, well shy of the previous session's peak of $1,391.76. - Reuters


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