* Renewed geopolitical woes cap Asia stocks
* Spreadbetters expect higher open for European stocks
* Brent drops below $103 a barrel on higher Libya output
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, Aug 18 Asian stocks stalled and the
dollar sagged against the safe-haven yen on Monday, as another
bout of tensions in the Ukrainian conflict sapped investor
Spreadbetters are picking European shares, which already had
a chance on Friday to absorb renewed tensions in the Ukraine, to
fare better. They forecast Britain's FTSE to open as
much as 0.4 percent higher, Germany's DAX 0.8 percent
and France's CAC 0.6 percent.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
was effectively flat, treading water through
most of the day. The index had gained 2.5 percent last week, its
largest weekly rise in nearly five months.
Tokyo's Nikkei inched up 0.1 percent.
News late on Friday that Ukrainian forces said they had
destroyed a Russian military column in Ukrainian territory
initially hit Wall Street, drove down government bond yields and
boosted safe-haven currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc.
U.S. stocks eventually pared their losses as risk appetite
partially returned, giving Asian shares an a token lift early on
Still, with the four-month conflict reaching a critical
phase over the weekend - Kiev and Western governments are
nervously watching if Russia will intervene in support of the
increasingly besieged rebels in eastern Ukraine- risk appetite
"A feeling of complacency had been creeping back into
investor psychology last week with a general feeling that
perhaps the declines at the start of the month were overdone,"
Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note to
"The encounter in Ukraine was a hefty reminder that
geopolitics cannot be ignored," he said.
The dollar dipped slightly to 102.31 yen after
sliding from a 10-day peak of 102.72 on Friday.
The euro was flat, at $1.3393 having being lifted
from an intraday low of $1.3359 on Friday as the greenback was
hit by a sharp fall in Treasury yields.
The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield dropped to
as low as 2.30 percent on Friday, lowest since June 2013, in
wake of the Ukraine news. It yielded 2.355 percent on Monday.
Apart from geopolitics, currency and bond markets will be
focused on the Aug. 21-23 annual meeting of top central bankers
at Jackson Hole, Wyoming, for possible clues about the path for
monetary policy in the months ahead.
"Historically, trading leading into Jackson Hole sees
increased volatility," noted Evan Lucas, strategist at IG in
"Talk so far is that chairperson Yellen is concentrating on
employment and the composition of wage growth and full-time
versus part-time percentages; this issue is likely to be echoed
by central bankers around the world as global employment remains
soft at best."
In commodities, Brent crude fell below $103 a barrel as
Libya increased its oil output and as worries over supply from
key producer Iraq eased.
Brent crude was down 82 cents at $102.71 a barrel
after jumping more than $1 on Friday on tensions in the Ukraine.
(Additional reporting by Ian Chua in Sydney; Editing by Eric
Meijer & Shri Navaratnam)