* Dollar steady in Asian trade, market awaits Fed
* Asian shares ease, Chinese stocks up
* Fed to release post-meeting statement at 1800 GMT
* Gold heads for best monthly rise since Jan. 2012
By Dominic Lau
TOKYO, July 31 Chinese shares rose after Beijing
pledged to keep economic growth stable in the second half of the
year, while the dollar held onto slight gains as market momentum
stalled ahead of the outcome of the U.S. Federal Reserve policy
meeting on Wednesday.
European shares were expected to open steady, with London's
FTSE 100 seen up as much as 0.1 percent and Frankfurt's
DAX indicated flat, while U.S. S&P 500 index futures
edged up 0.1 percent.
The dollar was steady against a basket of major
currencies after a 0.2 percent rise on Tuesday. The dollar index
is down 1.5 percent in July and set to post a second straight
monthly loss for the first time since the turn of the year.
The dollar index hit a five-week trough earlier this week as
investors bet the Fed would reassure markets that interest rates
would remain low for a long time even if it started scaling back
stimulus this year.
The Fed will release its post-meeting statement at 1800 GMT,
but there will be no news conference by Chairman Ben Bernanke.
"Traders globally seem to be in a wait-and-see mode before
the outcome of the Fed's meeting on the timing of quantitative
easing tapering," said Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at
Ichiyoshi Asset Management in Tokyo.
The Fed is expected to link the start of any tapering to
data signals, and markets get two major reports this week to
U.S. second quarter GDP data on Wednesday is expected to
show growth slowed to an annualised pace of 1.0 percent in the
second quarter from 1.8 percent in the first, while payrolls
data on Friday is forecast to show a fall in the jobless rate.
The European Central Bank and the Bank of England meet on
Thursday, and are set to hold policy steady.
The yen added 0.1 percent to 97.910 yen to the
dollar, while the euro was steady at $1.32560 after
hitting a six-week high of $1.33025 on Tuesday.
CHINESE SHARES UP
China's CSI300 index rose 0.5 percent after
authorities pledged to keep growth stable in the second half of
2012 while pressing ahead with reforms and restructuring.
The index is still down nearly 13 percent this
"The statement made by the Politburo is quite favourable for
the property sector," said Cao Xuefeng, a Chengdu-based head of
research at Huaxi Securities.
Asian shares as measured by the MSCI Asia-Pacific ex-Japan
index slipped 0.4 percent. The index is up 2.1
percent so far this month, on track to end a two-month losing
run, though it is still down 5 percent so far this year.
Japan's Nikkei share average dropped 1.5 percent in
light trading, giving up some of the previous session's 1.5
percent gain. Still, the benchmark is up 31.5 percent in 2013,
underpinned by the government's aggressive stimulus policies
aimed at reviving the world's third-largest economy.
Of the 54 Nikkei companies that have reported quarterly
earnings so far, two-thirds either beat or met market
expectations, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine, versus 54
percent in the previous quarter.
But in a sign that companies are curbing production due to
slowing growth in exports, Japanese manufacturing activity in
July grew at the slowest pace in four months.
In commodity markets, copper prices climbed 1
percent to just above $6,800 a tonne, rebounding from near
three-week lows after dropping 2.1 percent on Tuesday on
concerns about demand in top consumer China.
A Reuters poll found Chinese manufacturing activity may have
contracted in July for the first time in 10 months, signalling a
protracted slowdown in the world's second-largest economy. The
PMI will be released on Thursday.
Gold gained 0.5 percent. It is up 8.2 percent so far
this month, on track to snap a three-month losing run and mark
its biggest monthly rise since January 2012, but it is down 20
percent since the beginning of 2013.
Brent crude prices eased 0.2 percent to around
$106.70 a barrel, extending a 0.6 percent decline on Tuesday.
They are up 4.5 percent this month, heading for their best
monthly gain since August last year.