August 26, 2013 / 12:51 AM / 5 years ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks, currencies start new week on calmer note

* U.S. housing data tempers September Fed exit view

* Stocks mostly higher, gold briefly rises above $1,400 an ounce

* Currency markets subdued, dollar finds support after dip

* European stocks seen tracking Asian markets higher

By Ian Chua

SYDNEY, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose and gold hit a near three-month high on Monday, extending a move started late last week when a steep drop in U.S. new home sales tempered expectations the Federal Reserve will soon reduce stimulus.

Trading was subdued, particularly in the currency markets, as investors awaited fresh offshore leads amid a lack of market-moving economic news out of Asia.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan climbed 0.5 percent, adding to Friday’s 0.8 percent gain.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index advanced 0.7 percent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 0.2 percent and South Korea’s KOSPI put on 1.0 percent.

European stocks were seen tracking gains in Asia. IG markets predicted Germany’s DAX will open 0.3 percent higher and France’s CAC 40 will rise 0.6 percent.

Tokyo’s Nikkei closed just a touch lower, partly weighed by concerns about whether the government will raise the consumption tax as planned.

Monday’s gains for most Asian markets came as a welcome relief after the MSCI index suffered a hefty 2.9 percent drop last week.

Much of the heat was felt in the region’s emerging markets as investors pulled out of crowded trades in preparation for a post-stimulus world.

Last week Indonesian stocks posted an 8.7 percent slide in their biggest fall since September 2011. They were flat in late trade on Monday, having climbed as much as 0.6 percent earlier.

India, Indonesia and Brazil have scrambled to try to stem the destabilising outflows that have slammed their currencies sharply lower, with the rupee skidding to record lows recently.

Global central bankers at the Fed’s annual Jackson Hole policy conference were warned that global financial stability is at risk as ultra-easy policies that have flooded the world with cash are slowly unwound.

Uncertainty about when and how these policies will be phased out meant that market volatility will likely remain high, analysts said.

Data out on Friday showed sales of new U.S. single-family homes fell to their lowest in nine months, raising doubts about whether the Fed can afford to start to pull back next month — giving investors an excuse to buy back severely beaten-down assets.

“We still think the markets are overemphasising their concerns on (Fed) tapering. Tapering is only likely to be put in place if the U.S. economy is in good shape,” said Martin Lakos, division director at Macquarie Private Wealth.

While Friday’s U.S. housing data is helping stocks and gold to recover for now, it weighed on the dollar. The dollar index , which tracks the performance of the greenback against a basket of major currencies, was flat at 81.355, having slipped 0.2 percent on Friday.

Against the yen, the dollar traded at 98.56 off Friday’s peak of 99.15, while the euro bought $1.3382, having climbed as high as $1.3410.

Spot gold briefly popped above $1,400 an ounce for the first time since early June, extending Friday’s 1.5 percent rally. It last stood at $1,396.54.

U.S. crude was bid at $106.91 a barrel, while Brent crude extended gains above $111 a barrel as rising tensions in Syria added to concerns of increased unrest in the Middle East that could disrupt supply.

Shanghai copper rose to its highest in over four months on optimism about global growth and in the absence of London markets due to a UK holiday.

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