* Spreadbetters see weaker European open; German IFO awaited
* Yen erases early losses against dollar, euro
* China shares at two-week low, led by property sector
* Market reaction muted to G20's faster global growth goal
* Apparent progress in Ukraine crisis calms some fears
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Feb 24 Asian stocks dropped on Monday,
rekindling safe-haven demand for the yen, as plunging property
stocks took a toll on China and investors continued to fret
about the impact of the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus
European shares were seen opening lower, with financial
spreadbetters expecting Britain's FTSE 100 to open down
as much as 0.5 percent, Germany's DAX 0.4 percent
lower, and France's CAC 40 off 0.3 percent.
"With traders set to take overnight weakness in their
stride, they'll be looking towards today's German Ifo survey for
direction," Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at London Capital Group,
said in a note.
The German Ifo index for February is due at 0900 GMT, with
the business climate index seen unchanged at 110.6.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
shed 0.6 percent, while Japan's Nikkei stock
average ended down 0.2 percent, erasing its morning
gains though pulling off its session lows.
China shares sank to a two-week low, dragging Hong Kong
markets down, as property and banking counters slipped on
mainland news reports that stoked fears banks have stopped
extending loans to property-related companies.
"I would get out of interest rate-sensitive sectors. It's
very hard to navigate right now with policy risk on the rise,"
said Hong Hao, Hong Kong-based chief equity strategist at Bank
of Communication International.
Hong noted annual parliamentary meetings, that set an the
economic agenda, were due to start March 5 in Beijing.
Data on Monday showed the pace of the rise in China's home
prices slowed in January for the first time in 14 months,
suggesting the government's efforts to cool the market were
having an effect. [ID:nL3N0LT0NF}
The Chinese yuan fell on Monday, extending its worst weekly
performance in more than two years after the People's Bank of
China set its daily midpoint lower for a fifth session.
On Wall Street on Friday, stocks were off slightly on
Group of 20 finance ministers and central bankers committed
to spurring faster global growth at a two-day meeting in Sydney
over the weekend.
The final communique said the G20 would increase investment
and employment, generating more than $2 trillion in additional
output over five years while creating tens of million of new
The communique acknowledged emerging nations' concerns that
the Federal Reserve consider the impact of its monetary stimulus
withdrawal, which has led to bouts of capital flight from some
of those markets.
However, minutes released last week from the Fed's most
recent meeting suggested the pace of stimulus-tapering will
continue for now.
"There was no realistic expectation that EM would get any
relief, but they may be more vulnerable to bad news in the
aftermath," said Steven Englander, head of G10 currency FX
strategy at CitiFX, in a note to clients.
"Similarly the free pass to tapering may be mildly USD
positive," Englander added.
The dollar was steady against a basket of currencies after
posting its first weekly gain in three weeks. The dollar index
stood at 80.240, moving away from last week's low of
79.927 touched on Wednesday, which was its lowest since late
The dollar fell 0.2 percent to 102.30 yen, moving
away from a three-week high of 102.82 yen hit on Friday.
The euro also eased about 0.2 percent to 140.53 yen
, after touching 141.26 yen on Friday, its strongest
since Jan. 24.
The euro was nearly flat on the day at $1.3736, not
far from a high of $1.3773 touched on Wednesday, its highest
level since Jan. 2.
Also underpinning the single currency, the Ukraine
parliament voted on Saturday to remove President Viktor
Yanukovich, who abandoned his Kiev office to protesters. The
shift looks likely to pull Ukraine away from Moscow's orbit and
closer to Europe.
Britain stands ready to provide support to Ukraine through
schemes set up by the IMF and European Union, British finance
minister George Osborne said on Monday.
Investors await euro zone inflation on Friday to gauge
whether the European Central Bank has enough ammunition to ease
monetary policy at its next meeting on March 6.
"The weaker the data, the more the speculation will likely
mount that the ECB will take additional action," Marc Chandler,
chief global currency strategist with Brown Brothers Harriman,
said in a research note.
"The point is that between the data, ECB meeting and the
U.S. employment data on March 7, there is sufficient event risk
to deter strong euro gains from here," Chandler said.
On the commodities front, U.S. crude rose about 0.3
percent to $102.47 a barrel after posting a sixth straight week
of gains, while Brent crude added about 0.2 percent to
$110.06 a barrel.
But London copper fell sharply, shedding about 1.2
percent to $7,072.25, on persistent fears about the impact of
the Fed's tapering as well as China's murky growth outlook.
Gold added about 0.2 percent to $1,325.25 an ounce,
after it marked a third straight week of gains.