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Asian shares tread water as China GDP awaited

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October 20
9:28 PM 2014

Asian stocks balked at the starting gate on Tuesday, as investors looked past solid gains on Wall Street overnight to Chinese economic growth figures due later in the session.

Data due at 10 p.m. ET is expected to show that China's economy grew at its weakest pace in more than five years in the third quarter as a property downturn weighed on demand, raising the chances of more aggressive policy steps from the government.

China will also release data on industrial output and retail sales for September.

"Market action will largely depend on the release of key economic numbers in China," Michael McCarthy, chief market strategist at CMC Markets in Sydney, said in a note.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was flat in early trade, while Japan's Nikkei stock average .N225 drooped about 0.2 percent.

The Nikkei surged 4 percent on Monday, its biggest rise since June 2013, buoyed by the global rebound as well as news that Japan's $1.2 trillion public pension fund was likely to more than double its allocation to domestic stocks.

Wall Street marked gains overnight despite a quarterly earnings miss from IBM (IBM.N), and Apple Inc (AAPL.O) posted a better-than-expected 12 percent jump in revenue after the close.

Early on Monday, Dallas Federal Reserve President Richard Fisher told CNBC television that last week's turbulent trading should not stop the Fed from ending its third round of quantitative easing.

The consensus view is that the Fed will decide to wrap up its bond purchases for QE3 later this month, at its Oct 28-29 policy meeting, while short-term interest rates futures implied markets do not expect the U.S. central bank to raise rates until late 2015. 

Those expectations, combined with fears about the Ebola virus and fighting in the Middle East, have kept benchmark Treasury yields not far above 2 percent, and capped the dollar's gains.

The yield on benchmark 10-year notes was at 2.184 percent in early Asian trade, compared to Monday's U.S. close of 2.183 percent.

The dollar was flat on the day against the yen at 106.93 yen, while the euro was also steady at $1.2795.

In commodities trading, spot gold stood at $1,245.80 an ounce, close to its overnight levels and bolstered by renewed physical demand related to Diwali, India's major bullion-buying event this week.

Brent LCOc1 extended overnight losses, shedding about 0.2 percent to $85.22 a barrel as worries about booming supply and sluggish demand pushed the global oil benchmark back toward last week's four-year low.

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