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Asian stocks weaken as Turkey worries weigh, dollar stands tall

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Asian stocks weaken as Turkey worries weigh, dollar stands tall
People walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, March 23, 2018. REUTERS/Toru Hanai   -   Copyright  Toru Hanai(Reuters)
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By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian stocks sagged on Wednesday, failing to track Wall Street’s gains and with the dollar near a 13-month high as concerns about Turkey’s financial crisis weighed on investor appetite, despite the lira’s move away from an all-time low.

The lira <TRYTOM=D3>—which plummeted to a record low of 7.24 to the dollar at the week’s start, rattling global markets—stood little changed at 6.375 after rebounding nearly 8 percent overnight.

Wall Street’s three main indexes rose on Tuesday as the lira’s climb eased fears of broader financial contagion for now. A string of robust earnings also boosted U.S. shares. [.N]

But the rise in U.S. shares did not carry through to Asia, with MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> dipping 0.15 percent after bouncing 0.4 percent the previous day when the lira showed signs of stabilising.

Australian stocks <.AXJO> lost 0.15 percent and Japan’s Nikkei <.N225> slipped 0.15 percent after rallying more than 2 percent on Tuesday. South Korean markets <.KS11> were closed for a public holiday.

“The equity markets are waiting for the next steps after gaining strongly yesterday. The drop by the Turkish lira may have stopped, but the country is yet to tackle the fundamental problems facing it, and this has kept market sentiment subdued,” said Masahiro Ichikawa, senior strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management in Tokyo.

Underscoring lingering concerns towards the crisis in Turkey, the dollar hovered near a 13-month peak against a basket of currencies, seen to be supported by its safe-haven status.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that Ankara would boycott electronic products from the United States, retaliating in a row with Washington that has helped drive the lira to record lows.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a group of six major currencies stood at 96.696 after climbing to 96.794 <.DXY>, its highest since late June 2017.

The strength of the U.S. currency was compounded by the euro’s fall, which has been dogged by potential risks to European banks from the financial turmoil in Turkey.

The single currency stood little changed at $1.1347 <EUR=>, not far from a 13-month trough of $1.1330 brushed overnight. The euro also struggled near a 13-month low versus the Swiss franc <EURCHF=>, a traditional safe-haven currency.

Adding to overnight gains, the dollar last traded up 0.1 percent at 111.240 yen <JPY=>.

Government bond yields, meanwhile, nudged higher amid the ebb in risk aversion.

The benchmark 10-year Treasury note yield <US10YT=RR> stood around 2.90 percent, having bounced from a three-week low of 2.848 percent set on Monday.

British gilt and French bond yields have also pulled away from multi-week lows.

In commodities, crude oil prices felt pressure from a stronger dollar.

Brent crude futures <LCOc1> dipped 0.5 percent to $72.12 a barrel and U.S. crude <CLc1> shed 0.4 percent to $66.76 a barrel.

(Editing by Sam Holmes)

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