Asian stocks a shade firmer

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IOL pic july7 market arrows . Photo: Filomena Scalise

Sydney - Asian stocks were a fraction firmer on Monday as investors set aside geopolitical concerns for the moment to focus on the generally upbeat flow of US corporate earnings ahead of a host of results due this week.

Volumes were light, however, with Japanese markets on holiday. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.24 percent, with small gains for most markets across Asia.

A crowd of US companies report this week, ranging from Apple to McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Caterpillar.

Thomson Reuters data showed that of 82 companies in the S&P 500 that had reported earnings through Friday morning, 68 percent beat Wall Street's expectations, roughly in line with the 67 percent rate for the past four quarters and above the 63 percent rate since 1994.

The Dow ended Friday up 0.73 percent, while the S&P 500 gained 1.03 percent and the Nasdaq 1.57 percent. For the week, the Dow rose 0.9 percent, S&P 500 gained 0.5 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.4 percent.

Geopolitical concerns kept US Treasuries and German debt well underpinned. US 10-year yields were steady at 2.48 percent on Monday, while German bunds were yielding just 1.16 percent having neared all-time lows.

The UN Security Council is due to vote Monday on a resolution that would condemn the downing of a Malaysian passenger plane.

US Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday laid out what he said was overwhelming evidence of Russian complicity in the downing of the airliner.

In Gaza, Hamas's armed wing said on Sunday it had captured an Israeli soldier in a nearly two-week military offensive that has killed hundreds of Palestinians and 13 Israeli soldiers.

Kerry will travel to Cairo on Monday to meet with Egyptian officials about the crisis.

After an initial bout of risk aversion, major currencies have settled into an eerie clam. The dollar index was steady at 80.513, having retreated from a one-month peak last Friday when the euro bounced off a five-month trough of $1.3491.

Traders said buying interest below $1.3500 helped squeeze the euro up to $1.3530. The common currency should see solid support at $1.3460/80, an area that had provided a floor on several occasions in the past 10 months or so.

The greenback was at 101.30 yen after rebounding from a one-week low of 101.09. The euro stood at 137.09 yen , off a five-month trough of 136.71.

Gold was idling at $1,310.95 an ounce, after last week's choppy action saw it swing between $1,339 and $1,292.

Crude oil resumed its decline after enjoying only a brief rally last week. Brent was down 7 cents at $107.17 a barrel. US crude fell 20 cents to $102.93 a barrel. - Reuters


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