Asian shares muted, currencies in well-worn ranges

NEW YORK Mon Jun 23, 2014 8:52pm EDT

Pedestrians standing in front of an electronic board displaying various stock prices outside a brokerage are reflected in a polished stone surface, in Tokyo October 23, 2013.  REUTERS/Yuya Shino

Pedestrians standing in front of an electronic board displaying various stock prices outside a brokerage are reflected in a polished stone surface, in Tokyo October 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Yuya Shino

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Asian shares were subdued on Tuesday while major currencies kept to recent snug ranges after a surprisingly soft reading on euro zone manufacturing took the shine off better data from China, Japan and the United States.

Moves were marginal as markets slipped into something of a summer lull and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was just a fraction firmer.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 eased 0.6 percent while South Korea .KS11 added 0.3 percent.

Likewise, Wall Street had barely budged with the Dow .DJI off 0.06 percent and the S&P 500 .SPX 0.01 percent, while the Nasdaq .IXIC added 0.01 percent.

The FTSEurofirst 300 .FTEU3 index of leading European shares had lost 0.48 percent after Markit's Composite Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) unexpectedly fell to 52.8 in June from May's 53.5. TOP/CEN

The PMI surveys of manufacturing tend to be reliable, and timely, leading indicators of output trends and are closely watched by economists.

So there was relief that readings from the United States, China and Japan all rose strongly in the month. The U.S. PMI was a particularly pleasant surprise as it climbed to a four-year peak of 57.5.

David Hensley, an economist at JPMorgan, said the PMI's taken as a whole pointed to a quickening in global industrial output, perhaps to as much as a 5 percent annualized pace.

"Emerging Asia lies at the center of global manufacturing, so any acceleration in global activity normally would be confirmed there," he added.

"The continued recovery in China's manufacturing PMI is a positive sign, both outright and because China's survey typically is aligned with the broader EM complex. The trend in official data for EM Asia ex China remains murky, however."

The disappointing euro zone PMI's weighed on the euro, while the better Chinese data boosted the Australian dollar given the country's close trade ties.

The euro was flat at $1.3600 EUR= while the Aussie was up at $0.9423 AUD=D4 having touched a three-month peak overnight. Against the yen, the common currency stood at 138.60 EURJPY=R, while the dollar fetched 101.87 JPY=.

That left the dollar index .DXY little changed at 80.271, well within 80.000-81.000 seen since May.

The economic diary is bare for much of Asia on Tuesday though Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should detail more of his so-called "Third Arrow" policies including phased corporate tax cuts, public pension reforms and proposed dance hall deregulation.

Given that many have already been leaked or announced by officials, the risk is that the measures are likely to receive a lukewarm response from investors. Still, the market will be keen to see how they are fleshed out and implemented.

In commodity markets, gold was underpinned by geopolitical tensions amid the increasing violence in Iraq, while platinum eased as South African miners' union declared an official end to a five-month strike.

Spot gold XAU= was sitting tight at $1,315.00 an ounce as the market consolidated last week's 3 percent jump.

Brent crude edged back from nine-month highs as concerns waned that a Sunni Islamist insurgency in Iraq would cut the country's oil exports.

Brent LCOc1 fell 40 cents to $113.72 a barrel and U.S. crude for August delivery CLc1 shed 55 cents to $105.62.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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