Asian shares edge lower, supply concerns keep oil down
Asian shares and the dollar got off to a lackluster start on Tuesday as oil prices continued to drop, while Japanese shares marked early gains.
Crude oil prices shrugged off concerns about conflicts in Libya and Ukraine and continued to sag. Fears about a global supply glut and slowing growth have pushed oil prices down nearly 30 percent since June.
U.S. crude shed about 0.3 percent to $77.17 per barrel.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down about 0.2 percent, while Japan's Nikkei stock average added 0.6 percent.
Data released before the open showed Japan's current account surplus rose more than expected in September from a year earlier, as income from investments overseas bolstered the balance of payments. The surplus stood at 963.0 billion yen ($8.4 billion), against a median forecast for a 534.2 billion yen surplus in a Reuters poll of economists.
On Wall Street overnight, both the S&P 500 and the Dow industrials edged up to fresh closing highs.
U.S. bond markets and government offices will be closed later on Tuesday in observance of the Veterans' Day holiday, while other markets will trade.
U.S. Treasury prices slipped, putting a solid floor under the dollar as yields ticked higher. The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes stood at 2.360 percent in Asian trade, above its U.S. close of 2.359 percent on Monday.
The dollar edged down about 0.1 percent on the day to 114.93 yen, below Friday's seven-year peak of 115.60. The euro was slightly up at $1.2425 though not far from a two-year trough of $1.2358 touched on Friday, and strategists said the single currency's downside remained vulnerable.
"Our global flows data showed selling by both hedge funds and real money accounts post ECB in near record amounts. With both sectors not yet approaching oversold territory, there should be further room for continued selling," Citigroup's foreign exchange strategist Todd Elmer said in a note.
Investors had locked in gains on long dollar positions as Treasuries rose after headline U.S. payroll figures on Friday fell short of high expectations. The report still provided evidence of solid improvement in employment conditions, and underscored the brighter U.S. economic picture compared with Europe and Japan.
The Federal Reserve's monthly labor market conditions index released Monday showed an unchanged 4.0 level for October, which also allayed some concerns.
Diverging monetary policy outlooks between the Fed and both the European Central Bank as well as the Bank of Japan have lifted the dollar against its major rivals in recent weeks.