* Investors anxious to see if China shares can extend their
* Japanese economic data mixed, leaves Nikkei with small
* Dollar consolidates recent gains ahead of US economic news
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, July 29 Asian shares ticked higher on
Tuesday as investors in the region drew encouragement from a
rally in Chinese markets, though caution was widespread given
the torrent of U.S. economic news still to come this week.
Hong Kong's key stock index hit its highest close in
more than 3-1/2 years on Monday on optimism the world's
second-largest economy has turned a corner and as investors
wagered on more growth-friendly policies from Beijing.
The charge had been led by Chinese banks after a Reuters
report said the country's fifth-biggest bank by assets planned
to seek more private investors.
On Tuesday, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares
outside Japan was up 0.2 percent, with South
Korea's index adding 0.6 percent.
Japan's Nikkei edged up 0.3 percent following some
mixed economic news at home. While the availability of jobs in
Japan rose to the highest in 22 years, household spending and
retail sales both underwhelmed.
Wall Street provided little in the way of a lead as the
major indices approached major chart barriers. The Dow
rose 0.1 percent, while the S&P 500 gained a bare 0.03
percent, and the Nasdaq lost 0.1 percent.
Action was also lacking in currencies. The dollar held close
to a six-month peak against a basket of its peers, having gone
virtually nowhere as investors kept to the sidelines ahead of a
policy review by the Federal Reserve.
The Fed is sure to cut its monthly bond-buying program by
another $10 billion as it looks to wind up the scheme later in
the year, but the focus for markets is on any clues to the
timing of the first interest rate hike.
With other key data such as U.S. gross domestic product and
the closely watched non-farm payrolls report still to come,
investors were content to sit on their hands.
The euro was likewise pinned near an eight-month trough of
$1.3421 set on Friday. It traded at $1.3438, having
shuffled between $1.3427 and $1.3440.
Against the yen, the dollar was steady at 101.85,
while the common currency barely budged at 136.84.
In commodities, gold was idling at $1,304.44 after a
very quiet 24 hours saw it hold to an $8 range.
Oil prices dipped as signs of excess supplies of North Sea
and West African crude and weak demand in Europe and Asia offset
fears of escalating tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East.
September Brent lost 7 cents to $107.50 a barrel,
while U.S. crude futures eased 24 cents to $101.43.
(Editing by Kim Coghill)