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Asia shares advance as investors look to data for proof of 'goldilocks'

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TOKYO  - Asian shares rose on Tuesday as investors looked to a barrage of economic data around the world to confirm recent signs the global economy is in fine fettle with inflation staying well contained.

Spreadbetters expected a mostly stronger start for European shares, forecasting Britain's FTSE to open 0.5 percent higher, Germany's DAX to start up 0.1 percent and France's CAC to open little changed.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.7 percent, led by gains in financials and energy shares and coming within a whisker of last Thursday's heights not seen since January 2008, while Tokyo's Nikkei rose 0.2 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.7 percent, touching its highest since June 2015, and the Hang Seng China Enterprises index was up 1.8 percent and at its highest since August 2015.

Strong inflows from mainland investors via the stock connect program linking Hong Kong and the mainland are seen to be helping drive the recent rise in Hong Kong stocks.

Australian stocks advanced 0.9 percent on the strength of financials and materials shares.

On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.28 percent to end at a record high of 21,891.12 but the Nasdaq Composite pulled back 0.42 percent after its recent rallies.

MSCI ACWI, an index of the world's 47 stock markets, logged its ninth consecutive month of gains in July, the longest winning spell since 2003-04, on the back of expectations of solid global economic growth.

On the other hand, softening U.S. inflation in recent months prompted investors to bet the Federal Reserve will adopt a patient approach to further interest rate increases.

"The abundance of cheap money is perhaps a theme that is getting stale. Yet, that is the best explanation you could think of to explain the strength of shares and commodities today," said Yoshinori Shigemi, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

The CBOE volatility index, which measures implied volatility of stocks and is often seen as investors' fear gauge, stood near record low levels hit last week, partly as investors sell options to enhance low yields.

"The low level of the Vix is a testament that investors expect 'goldilocks markets' to continue," said Shuji Shirota, head of macro economic strategy group at HSBC in Tokyo.

"Under such an environment, the dollar, which is a safe-haven asset, will continue to decline," he added.

Indeed, besides the United States, recent data from other parts of the world suggest a 'goldilocks' scenario where growth is fast enough to create jobs but not so rapid that it would lead to runaway inflation.

A private survey showed growth in China's manufacturing quickened in July, as output and new orders rose at the fastest pace since February on strong export sales.

South Korea's trade data also showed the country's exports grew at robust pace in July, led by shipments of memory chips and electronic storage devices.

All of these data will be followed by preliminary flash estimates of euro zone gross domestic product at 0900 GMT, and then U.S. spending and manufacturing data, due at 1230 GMT and 1400 GMT respectively.

In the currency market, the euro traded at $1.1832, having risen to as high as $1.1846, its best level since January 2015, with a test of $1.20 within sight.

It has gained almost 15 percent from its January 3 low of $1.0340, which was its weakest level since January 2003, on rising expectations that the European Central Bank will taper its stimulus next year.

The dollar also slipped to a 1-1/2-month low of 110.005 yen, and last stood at 110.18 yen, down 0.1 percent.

The dollar's index against a basket of six major currencies was at 92.878, not far from a 13-month low of 92.784 plumbed overnight. The index had marked its fifth straight monthly decline in July, the longest consecutive retreat since its losing run marked from the end of 2010 through early 2011.

The Australian dollar gained 0.4 percent to $0.8034, helped by the strong Chinese data, ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy announcement later in the day. The RBA is widely expected to keep interest rates on hold.

The Chinese yuan hit 10-month highs in both onshore and offshore trade.

U.S. political turmoil also weighed on the dollar after U.S. President Donald Trump dismissed his communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, just over a week after naming him to the job.

An administration official said Trump's new chief of staff, retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, who sources said was seeking to impose order and discipline on a White House riven with factions and backbiting, asked for Scaramucci's removal.

Oil prices rose to two-month highs on Monday, on expectations of U.S. sanctions against Venezuela's oil sector after Sunday's election of a constitutional super-body in Caracas, which Washington denounced as a "sham" vote.

Oil prices maintained gains even after the U.S. Treasury Department late on Monday announced sanctions limited only to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro.

Brent crude futures traded at $52.81 per barrel after having hit a high of $52.92 on Monday.

Copper rose 0.2 percent to $6,380 per tonne, holding near Monday's two-year high of $6,430 and its 2015 peak of $6,481.

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Muslim Global: Asia shares advance as investors look to data for proof of 'goldilocks'
Asia shares advance as investors look to data for proof of 'goldilocks'
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