* Stocks, dollar higher after robust U.S. housing data
* Spreadbetters expect slightly lower open for Europe
* Geopolitical risk seen receding more comprehensively
* Markets focused on Fed meeting minutes due later
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, Aug 20 Asian stocks were steady on
Wednesday after strong U.S. housing data lifted Wall Street
shares, helping nudge Treasury yields higher and keeping the
dollar to extend gains against the euro and yen.
Spreadbetters expected a slightly lower open for Europe
ahead of the Federal Reserve meeting minutes release later in
the day. Britain's FTSE was forecast to open as much as
0.1 percent lower, Germany's DAX down 0.1 percent and
France's CAX flat.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
was flat, treading water through the day.
Tokyo's Nikkei inched up 0.1 percent.
Wall Street drew support from robust housing data on
Tuesday, which pushed up Treasury yields and drove the dollar to
a nine-month high against the euro.
Riskier assets were also underpinned by receding
geopolitical tensions stemming from the Ukraine conflict.
"Risk-on moves continue to take place. Last week it was
mostly led by equities, but now it is more widespread, resulting
in safe-havens like Treasuries being sold," said Junichi
Ishikawa, market strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.
"The resulting rise in Treasury yields has boosted the
dollar, and we are seeing a more comprehensive risk off trend,"
The euro hovered close to a nine-month low of $1.3303
reached during the session.
The dollar gained 0.2 percent to 103.12 yen after
touching a four-month high of 103.23 yen.
The New Zealand dollar fell to a five-month low as the
greenback's strength added to bearish factors including soft
dairy prices and investor preference for the neighbouring Aussie
The kiwi fell to as low as $0.8373, last touched in
The 10-year Treasury note yielded 2.406 percent,
having risen for the last three days after hitting a 14-month
low of 2.303 percent last week.
Strategists at Brown Brothers Harriman said the situation
appeared to be developing into two tiers of risk, a lower one
focused on ground conflict and a higher one centred on the
international diplomatic arena.
"It seems as if markets are now entirely focused on the
upper tier of risk, and have come to accept an escalation of the
proxy military conflict on the ground between the two countries
(Ukraine and Russia)," they wrote in a note to clients.
Later in the day investors will scrutinise the Federal
Reserve's minutes from the July 29-30 policy meeting, while
looking forward to Fed Chair Janet Yellen's speech on Friday at
a gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.
The Fed minutes will again be scanned for any clues on when
policymakers plan to raise U.S. interest rates, with a set of
mixed data in recent months keeping traders guessing about the
timing of the tightening cycle.
In commodities, gold was stuck firmly below $1,300 an ounce
and looked likely to extend losses as the strong U.S. data
bolstered stock markets, dimming bullion's appeal as a safe
Spot gold was little changed at $1,295.68 an ounce
after shedding 1.3 percent in the last three sessions.
Brent crude futures steadied near 14-month lows above $101 a
barrel, with ample supplies putting prices at risk of further
losses as worries over geopolitical tensions eased.
Brent crude was little changed at $101.51 a barrel.
The contract fell to $101.07 on Tuesday, its lowest since June
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam, Jacqueline Wong and Simon