November 15, 2018 / 12:47 AM / a month ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia edges up as oil slide slows; pound, euro firm on Brexit optimism

* MSCI Asia-Pacific index up 0.15 pct

* Pound, euro firm after PM May gains cabinet backing for Brexit

* Oil prices still wobbly but sharp slide slows for now

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO, Nov 15 (Reuters) - Asian stocks edged up on Thursday as a steep slide in crude oil prices which had chilled investor sentiment slowed, while the pound and euro were supported after British Prime Minister Theresa May gained cabinet support for a Brexit deal.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.15 percent. The index had declined 0.4 percent the previous day as plunging oil prices heightened anxiety about the outlook for broad demand and global growth.

Australian stocks rose 0.15 percent while Japan’s Nikkei shed 0.5 percent.

All the same, stock market gains in Asia were limited after Wall Street extended their recent decline.

The S&P 500 fell for a fifth straight day overnight as financial stocks were hit by fears that banking industry regulations would tighten once the Democratic Party takes control of the House of Representatives.

U.S. equities were also pressured by lingering concerns that earnings growth might be peaking, intensifying trade tensions and a slowing global economy - factors that had triggered a rout in riskier assets in October.

“If U.S. stocks are to bounce back, economic indicators will be key,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior forex strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

“Immediate focus will be on today’s U.S. retail sales data, which will provide a view of how private consumption -the main component of economic growth- is faring.”

U.S. retail sales for October will be released at 1330 GMT.

In currencies, the pound and euro kept gains made after British Prime Minister May’s cabinet gave backing on her Brexit deal. May now has to gain the support of parliament, though it is unclear whether she has enough votes to clinch approval.

The pound was a shade higher at $1.12987 after peaking at $1.3072 on Wednesday, when it tacked on 0.1 percent.

The euro was little changed at $1.1311 having advanced 0.2 percent overnight.

The single currency’s upside was limited by uncertainty on how European Union officials would react to Italy’s latest fiscal proposal after they rejected a version of it last month for violation of certain EU rules.

Italy on Wednesday re-submitted its draft 2019 budget to the European Commission with the same growth and deficit assumptions as a draft rejected for breaking European Union rules, stepping up its showdown with the EU over its fiscal policy.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was 0.1 percent lower at 97.213, nudged down by the firmer pound and euro.

U.S. crude was a shade lower at $55.92 per barrel after gaining 1 percent overnight, snapping a 12 day losing run on growing prospects that the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and allied producers would cut output.

With global demand concerns also causing the steepest one-day loss for oil in more than three years on Tuesday, the market reversed course after Reuters reported that OPEC and its partners were discussing a proposal to cut output by up to 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd), more than officials had mentioned previously. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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