MARKETS: Asian shares edge down as markets monitor Greece

#AceFinanceReport – June.25:TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares edged down on Thursday and the dollar was treading water, with investors on ice ahead of a meeting of European Union leaders later in the session as Greece continued last-minute efforts to avert a default.

Financial spreadbetters predicted the cautious mood would carry over into European trade, with Britain’s FTSE 100 seen opening 11 to 12 points lower, or down 0.2 percent; Germany’s DAX expected to fall around 41 points, or 0.4 percent; and France’s CAC 40 to drop 19 points, or 0.4 percent.

Athens’ talks with creditors bogged down on details, with next week’s deadline to repay 1.6 billion euros ($1.79 billion)to the International Monetary Fund looming, and threatening to trigger Greece’s removal from the euro zone.

The EU leaders are scheduled to convene in Brussels later on Thursday.

“Optimism around a Greek deal had been driving price action all week but a stall in the negotiation process has put the brakes on the rally,” IG market strategist Stan Shamu wrote in a note.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down about 0.3 percent.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index ended down about 0.5 percent after hopes for a resolution to Greece’s debt crisis had helped propel it on Wednesday to its highest level since 1996.

The Nikkei had pared its losses earlier in the session, underpinned by news that the U.S. Senate passed legislation that would help President Barack Obama seal the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-nation Pacific Rim trade pact.

Japan would be the second-largest economy in the scheme, and investors hope its passage would life a broad range of Japanese companies.

Wall Street logged losses overnight, but U.S. stock futures edged up about 0.2 percent in Asian trade.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was steady on the day at 95.264.

The euro inched down slightly to $1.1201, while the dollar slipped about 0.2 percent on the day against the yen to 123.61.

“Euro/dollar responded less compared to dollar/yen as underlying optimism that a [Greek] deal will be sealed by the month’s remains intact amid pessimism over the talks breaking down,” said Junichi Ishikawa, market analyst at IG Securities in Tokyo.

Wednesday’s U.S. gross domestic product data revealed that the final figure for the first quarter was a 0.2 percent contraction, a smaller drop than the previously estimated 0.7 percent. That reinforced expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve is on track to raise interest rates this year, perhaps as early as September.

In commodities trading, U.S. crude was down about 0.1 percent at $60.19 a barrel after plunging more than 1 percent on Wednesday on a government report showing that an eighth straight weekly drop in U.S. crude stockpiles was offset by a large build in refined products. Brent crude added about 0.1 percent to $63.54.

Spot gold rose about 0.2 percent to $1,177.31 an ounce after sliding for the past four sessions to a two-week low.

($1 = 0.8917 euros)

(Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Richard Borsuk)

Asian shares edge down as markets monitor Greece


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