April 2, 2018 / 12:38 AM / 7 months ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks begin new quarter on modest gains, dollar steady

* MSCI Asia-Pacific index up 0.3 pct, Nikkei rises 0.2 pct

* Dollar little changed against euro, yen

* Crude oil extends gains

By Shinichi Saoshiro

TOKYO, April 2 (Reuters) - Asian stocks began the new quarter on Monday with mild gains following a strong performance by global equities last week, while the dollar held steady awaiting key economic indicators.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent.

South Korea’s KOSPI gained 0.8 percent and Japan’s Nikkei edged up 0.2 percent.

Wall Street surged last Thursday as technology stocks rebounded, ending a tumultuous first quarter on a high note. Many major financial centres were closed for the Good Friday Easter holiday.

MSCI’s world equity index ended up 1.2 percent last week. But it lost about 1.5 percent in the first quarter, pushed away from record highs as tensions over global trade escalated, turmoil in the White House deepened and market-leading technology firms wobbled on fears of regulation and other issues.

“We expect strong and broad-based growth to continue globally,” wrote strategists at Barclays.

But they warned that there were looming risks: “Trade protectionism, U.S. economic policy uncertainty, concerns about higher cross-market volatility and risk premium in core rates markets call for a more tactical approach to risk assets.”

In currencies, the dollar was steady at 106.280 yen. The euro was a shade lower at $1.2314.

The greenback had gained about 0.6 percent against a basket of six major currencies last week on factors including perceived progress on North Korea issues and as U.S.-China trade tensions were seen to have eased for the time being.

The dollar index still lost more than 2 percent last quarter, marking its fifth straight quarter of declines.

“A list of important indicators will be released this week, which could help steady market sentiment even though U.S.-China trade concerns and other geopolitical risks continue to linger in the background,” said Koji Fukaya, president at FPG Securities in Tokyo.

U.S. data due this week include Monday’s Institute for Supply Management (ISM) manufacturing index, Wednesday’s ISM non-manufacturing index and the non-farm payrolls report on Friday.

Crude oil prices extended gains after rising late last week on a bounce in the equity markets.

U.S. crude futures rose 0.3 percent to $65.12 a barrel and Brent advanced 0.4 percent to $69.62 a barrel. (Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro Editing by Eric Meijer)

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