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Asian shares pull back, but on track for winning week Fri May 12, 2017 | 1:04am EDT

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-global-markets-idUSKBN18802Y
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Asian shares were hobbled on Friday by a downbeat performance on Wall Street though they remained on track for weekly gains, while oil prices extended a rally on hopes for output cuts.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS erased early modest gains and turned down 0.3 percent, shy of nearly two-year highs probed in the previous session but still up 1.6 percent for the week.

Australian shares skidded 0.9 percent, led by financials, while the Shanghai Composite index .SSEC added 0.4 percent as the Chinese central bank's move to inject funds amid liquidity worries offered some solace.

"We've had a nervous twitch about China, over this week," said Sean Darby, chief global equity strategist at Jefferies. "We've had a bit more of a regulatory overhang coming through in the financial system."

China's banking regulator this week launched emergency risk assessments of lenders' new business practices, sources told Reuters, as Beijing deepens its crackdown on shadow banking.

Earlier in the day, China's central bank injected fresh funds through a medium-term lending facility while keeping a tight rein on short-term funding in what appeared to be a further effort to dampen speculative investment.

Japan's Nikkei stock index .N225 was down 0.5 percent, as investors locked in gains after it came close to the psychologically significant 20,000 milestone this week, above which it hasn't traded since December 2015.

U.S. stocks fell on Thursday after several large department stores reported worse-than-expected sales drops while Macy's (M.N) released results for a dismal quarter, and political drama in Washington continued to unsettle investors.

President Donald Trump ran into resistance for calling ousted FBI chief James Comey a "showboat." The attack was swiftly contradicted by top U.S. senators and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who pledged that an investigation into possible Trump campaign ties to Russia would proceed.

U.S. political turmoil has a secondary effect on markets, said Bill Northey, chief investment officer at the private client group of U.S. Bank in Helena, Montana, because of its effect on investors' appetite for risk and future expectations.

"Will it cause a delay or roadblock associated with some of the stimulus measures on the administration's agenda?" he said, adding that the dismal retail sector also took a toll on Thursday's trading despite a brighter big-picture view.

U.S. data on Thursday showed producer prices rebounded more than expected last month, leading to the biggest annual gain in five years and suggesting that inflation pressures were rising.

Combined with a tightening labor market, firming inflation backs market expectations that the Federal Reserve is poised to raise interest rates at its meeting next month. The central bank has forecast two more hikes this year after a quarter point increase in March.

But lower Treasury yields offset the dollar's upward pressure. The benchmark 10-year U.S. yield US10YT=RR stood at 2.376 percent in Asian trade, down from its U.S. close of 2.400 percent as well as a nearly six-week high of 2.423 percent touched on Thursday.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was slightly lower at 99.611 .DXY, but was up 1 percent for the week.

The dollar edged down 0.1 percent against the perceived safe-haven Japanese currency to 113.74 JPY= but was up 0.8 percent for the week, while the euro added 0.1 percent to $1.0867 EUR=, down 1.2 percent for the week.

Dovish comments from a European Central Bank official weighed on the single currency. Maintaining its ultra-loose monetary policy for longer is the safer way for the ECB to avoid an economic relapse, its vice-president Vitor Constancio told Reuters on the sidelines of an ECB conference on Thursday, signaling a change of tack was unlikely until the autumn.

Sterling was steady on the day at $1.2886 GBP= after dropping to a one-week low on Thursday following the Bank of England's decision to keep interest rates unchanged. Policymakers indicated that rates were unlikely to rise until late 2019.

U.S. crude oil futures CLc1 added 0.1 percent to $47.88 per barrel, while Brent LCOc1 also rose 0.1 percent to $50.80.

Both benchmarks had risen for a second day on Thursday, finishing up more than 1 percent at their highest respective closing prices in a week as support grew for OPEC output cuts following U.S. government data earlier in the week showing a big draw in crude inventories. [O/R]

Spot gold XAU= was 0.2 percent higher at $1,226.42 an ounce, moving away from an eight-week low of $1,213.81 plumbed on Tuesday.

 

 

(Reporting by Lisa Twaronite; Editing by Sam Holmes & Shri Navaratnam)