* Iraq fighting, weak U.S. data hit risk appetite, buoy yen
* Spreadbetters expect lower European open
* Crude oil hovers at 9-month highs
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, June 13 Asian stocks slid and crude oil
scaled nine-month highs on Friday as escalating civil war in
Iraq dulled risk appetite which had been buoyant just days
Spreadbetters expected the sour mood to linger on in
Europe, forecasting Britain's FTSE to open as much as
0.4 percent lower, Germany's DAX down 0.25 percent and
France's CAC 0.26 percent lower.
The yen, however, benefited from its safe-haven status and a
decline in U.S. Treasury yields following soft U.S. data that
dented economic optimism.
Sunni Islamist militants have extended their advance south
towards Baghdad and prompted President Barack Obama to warn of
possible U.S. military intervention, while Iraqi Kurdish forces
took control of the Kirkuk oil hub amid the chaos.
Weaker-than-expected U.S. retail sales and jobless claims
data published on Thursday further tempered economic optimism
felt earlier in the week that had propelled Wall Street to
Taking its cue from an overnight slide in U.S. stocks,
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
shed 0.3 percent. The index, which hit a
three-year high on Monday, was still poised to rise about 0.4
percent this week.
Tokyo's Nikkei swam against the tide to rise 0.9
percent, on course to end the week on a 0.2 percent gain.
Reaction was muted towards China's industrial output and
retail sales data, which rose in line with forecasts but were
not solid enough to show that the world's second largest economy
was on a solid, broad recovery.
Brent crude futures rose towards $114 a barrel on
Friday and hit a nine-month high.
"Oil is now in a new price territory and is likely to climb
more as investors rework their positions, supported by the
uncertainty and technicals," said Ken Hasegawa, a Tokyo-based
commodity sales manager at Newedge Japan.
The dollar edged up 0.3 percent to 101.97 yen but was
still stuck in the vicinity of a two-week low of 101.60 hit on
Thursday. On the week, the dollar was on course to lose about
0.5 percent against the yen.
After the Bank of Japan stood pat on monetary policy on
Friday as widely expected, currency market focus turned to
whether Governor Haruhiko Kuroda will maintain his confident
stance on the economy when he briefs the media at 0630 GMT.
The euro was little changed at $1.3556, poised to end
the week down about 0.6 percent, hobbled by a widening yield gap
between euro zone bonds and their peers following easing by the
European Central Bank earlier this month.
The pound gained over a cent overnight to five-week highs
after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney said on Thursday that
British interest rates could rise sooner than financial markets
expect. The pound was last up 0.2 percent at $1.6959.
In commodities, copper was up on the day but still set for
its third straight weekly loss as seasonally strong demand from
China passes its peak. Three-month copper on the London Metal
Exchange inched up 0.8 percent to $6,671.50 a tonne.
Palladium and sister metal platinum bounced back from the
previous session's slide as South African producers struck a
deal with a miners' union to end a crippling five-month strike.
(Additional reporting by Lisa Twaronite and Ayai Tomisawa in
Tokyo, Manash Goswami in Singapore; Editing by Eric Meijer)