* Dollar index edges back toward this month's 11-month high
* Improved risk sentiment helps lift Nasdaq to highest since
* Upbeat U.S. housing data raises Treasury yields, bolsters
* Investors await Fed minutes, Jackson Hole summit later
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Aug 19 Asian stocks rose on Tuesday after
Wall Street climbed to its highest level since late July, while
the dollar got some help from a rebound in U.S. Treasury yields
and hopes of some easing of tensions in the Ukraine crisis.
Financial spreadbetters predicted the cheer would spread to
European trade, where they expected Britain's FTSE 100
to open 18 to 19 points higher, or up 0.3 percent; Germany's DAX
to open 42 to 49 points higher, or up 0.5 percent; and
France's CAC 40 to open 9 to 12 points higher, or up 0.3
"While no one is suggesting the crisis in Ukraine is
anywhere near resolved, given that the fighting remains ongoing
as Kiev's forces tighten their grip, European markets look set
to take their cues from last night's positive finish in the
U.S., and open higher this morning," Michael Hewson, chief
market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note.
Foreign ministers from Russia, Ukraine, Germany, and France
gathered in Berlin over the weekend to discuss talks for a
ceasefire or a political solution, and Russia's Foreign Ministry
said on Monday that a "certain progress" was achieved during the
Ukrainian government forces reported new successes
overnight, building on a weekend breakthrough, when troops
raised the national flag in Luhansk, a city held by pro-Russian
separatists since fighting began in April.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
added about 0.6 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock
average ended up 0.8 percent, rising for the seventh
"Confidence is back as we've got strong U.S. shares and
upbeat data from the U.S.," said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical
analyst at Daiwa Securities.
U.S. stocks marked solid gains on Monday after upbeat
housing data, and the situation in Ukraine offered some sign of
hope that the conflict would be contained. The Nasdaq Composite
topped the key 4,500 mark for the first time since March
S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 0.2 percent, which
could signal more U.S. gains later in the day.
On Monday, U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose in August to its
highest since January, the National Association of Home Builders
said, marking a third straight monthly gain and beating the mean
estimate of analysts polled by Reuters.
The better-than-expected figure helped U.S. Treasury yields
pull away from recent lows, with the yield on the benchmark
10-year U.S. Treasury note at 2.398 percent in Asia,
compared with its U.S. close of 2.387 percent on Monday.
It had dropped as low as 2.30 percent on Friday, its lowest
since June 2013.
Later in the week, investors will be keeping a close eye on
Wednesday's release of minutes from the Federal Reserve's July
policy meeting as well as comments from the Fed's summit in
Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which starts on Thursday.
"Some Fed officials have been talking about the need for an
earlier rate hike so investors will also be looking to see if
there is a more hawkish bias to the FOMC minutes," said Kathy
Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management.
Janet Yellen is slated to speak on Friday, her first Jackson
Hole appearance at the helm of the U.S. central bank.
The dollar bought 102.61 yen, up about 0.1 percent,
while the euro edged down about 0.1 percent to $1.3355,
not far from this month's nine-month low of $1.3333. Against the
safe-haven yen, the euro rose slightly to 137.04.
The dollar index, which tracks the U.S. unit against a
basket of rivals, added about 0.1 percent to 81.615,
moving back in the direction of an 11-month high of 81.716 hit
earlier this month.
In commodities trading, spot gold steadied on the day at
$1,299.64 an ounce, but remained below the $1,300 level
against the backdrop of improved risk sentiment.
U.S. crude added about 0.4 percent to $96.78 ahead of
the September contract's expiration on Wednesday. Brent crude
rose about 0.3 percent to $101.85 after shedding nearly
$2 a barrel overnight to its lowest price in over a year.
(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by
Eric Meijer, Kim Coghill and Simon Cameron-Moore)