Asian Shares Steady, Easter Slows Trade

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Asian shares and the euro were steady on Monday but trading remained subdued with some Asian markets, including Australia and Hong Kong, and Europe still closed for Easter holidays.

Asian shares and the euro were steady on Monday but trading remained subdued with some Asian markets, including Australia and Hong Kong, and Europe still closed for Easter holidays.

Asian shares edged higher and the euro steadied on Friday after banks in Cyprus reopened to relative calm. Most markets in Asia, the United States and Europe were shut on Friday for Easter.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was little-changed early on Monday.

The Nikkei stock average .N225 kicked off Japan's new fiscal year with a 0.4 percent fall, after ending the first quarter up 19 percent. .T

Expectations for strong monetary stimulus measures to be announced by the Bank of Japan at its meeting on April 3-4 under the new leadership have supported Japanese equities and underpinned the dollar against the yen.

"The cap on dollar/yen for now is removed, with repatriation flows related to Japan's fiscal year-end completed at the end of March, so speculators will be looking to build long dollar/yen positions leading up to the BOJ meeting," said Yuji Saito, director of foreign exchange at Credit Agricole in Tokyo.

"They will likely boost the dollar/yen up to around 96 yen level before selling on the fact, regardless of what the BOJ does at this week's meeting, to book profits," Saito said. He added that the euro remained top-heavy.

The dollar steadied around 94.31 yen, having risen about 8.4 percent in the first quarter after touching a 3-1/2-year peak of 96.71 earlier in March.

China's manufacturing data is due during the session but the absence of Australian investors could limit market reaction, traders said. China is Australia's largest trading partner and its stocks and currency tend to move on Chinese economic indicators.

The euro was at $1.2799, hovering near a four-month low of $1.2750 touched last week.

The euro was pressured with Italy struggling to unlock a political standoff more than a month after elections and Cyprus imposing heavy losses on large bank deposits, fuelling concerns about a spillover of its banking system instability to other parts of the euro zone.

Sentiment could also be weighed on concerns about growth in China as Xinhua said on Saturday that Beijing and Shanghai will implement strict property cooling measures as part of a central government crackdown on the overheated property market.

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