* HSBC final PMI for Nov suggests China manufacturing stable
* Dollar not far from 6-month high vs. yen; euro firm
* Nikkei edges down, moving away from last week's nearly
six-year closing high
* Thai stocks skid as political tensions remain high
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Dec 2 Asian shares and the dollar trod
water on Monday, as investors cautiously awaited key U.S. data
this week after a decent reading on China manufacturing calmed
worries about the health of the world's second-biggest economy.
The tepid performance in the region is seen extending to
Europe, with financial spreadbetters tipping Britain's FTSE 100
to open down 0.2 percent, Germany's DAX up 0.1
percent, and France's CAC 40 steady.
"The recent rally has lost some of its momentum but
expectations that festive spirits can filter through in to a
bumper spending spree are keeping equities well supported,"
Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at London Capital Group, said in a
note to clients.
"Although overall spending on 'Black Friday' in the U.S. was
a little weaker due to a drop in bricks and mortar sales, this
hasn't dented bullish spirits as the surge in online spending is
expected to be replicated over here in the slightly more tech
savvy European markets as 'Cyber Monday' gets underway," he
added, referring to the Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving
holiday on which online sales have historically surged.
China's factory activity maintained steady growth momentum
in November, boosted by resilient new orders, though the pace of
expansion eased slightly from October, the HSBC/Markit
Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) showed.
The final PMI reading came in at 50.8 in November, down from
50.9 in October but improving from a preliminary reading of
50.4. That followed an official survey released over the weekend
showing China's factory growth held at an 18-month high last
month on firm domestic and foreign demand.
"The data broadly says that things are stabilising in
China," said Thomas Lam, chief economist at DMG & Partners
Securities in Singapore.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
was flat, paring earlier losses following the
PMI survey and then erasing them in the afternoon.
One regional standout underperformer was Thailand, where the
SET index tumbled more than 1 percent as anti-government
protesters took to the streets to renew their fight to topple
Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, prompting riot police to
fire teargas and stun grenades for a second day.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei ended down slightly, after
it rallied 9.3 percent last month, spurred by strong earnings
and a weakened yen. The index hit its highest closing level in
nearly six years on Thursday.
Data released on Monday showed Japanese companies raised
spending on factories and equipment in the July-September
quarter. However, the slow pace of the increase cast some doubt
on whether capital spending is as strong as needed to help
sustain economic growth.
Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said capital
expenditure will likely increase as a trend, though he warned in
a speech to business leaders on Monday that overseas
uncertainties were among key risks for the BOJ to meet its
target of 2 percent inflation in about two years.
The BOJ's commitment to ultra-easy monetary policy as it
shoots for this goal has kept pressure on the yen, though it
held its ground on Monday.
The dollar was steady at 102.43 yen, after it touched
a six-month high of 102.61 yen on Friday.
Against the dollar, the euro was slightly higher at $1.3603
, while the dollar index, which tracks the U.S.
unit against a basket of major rivals, lost about 0.2 percent to
The euro added about 0.1 percent against its Japanese
counterpart to 139.32 yen, moving back toward
Friday's five-year high of 139.70 yen.
PAYROLLS IN FOCUS
U.S. data later in the week remains a key focus, with the
Federal Reserve poised to reduce its stimulus as soon as it
deems the economy is strong enough.
Nonfarm payrolls for November is scheduled for release on
Friday, with economists expecting an increase of 185,000 jobs
last month, down from 204,000 in October, according to a Reuters
survey of economists.
In commodities trading, gold was down about 0.5
percent at $1,245.69 an ounce, undermined by concern that signs
of a stronger U.S. economy could compel the Fed to reduce its
stimulus. Gold has lost around a quarter of its value so far
this year, on track to post its first annual loss in 13 years.
Copper shed about 0.3 percent to $7,030.25 a tonne
as expectations for a swelling market surplus next year offset
any cheer from the China PMI survey. Copper lost 2.7 percent in
Brent crude oil gained about 0.4 percent to $110.13
a barrel, lifted by the China PMI, after it shed more than $1 on
Friday. U.S. crude was about 0.5 percent higher at $93.21
as traders weighed supply outages in Libya against U.S.