Asia shares up, oil down as Syria fallout seen limited

Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Japan's Foreign Minister Taro Kono meet in Tokyo Japan

China's economy grew a welcome 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2018 from a year earlier, official data showed on Tuesday, unchanged from the previous quarter.

"There are two stories here, one backward-looking and one forward-looking", said Robert Subbaraman, chief economist for Asia, excluding Japan, at Nomura in Singapore. The broader Topix index of all First Section issues on the Tokyo Stock Exchange finished 6.86 points, or 0.40 percent, higher at 1,736.22.

The S&P 500 Index gained to the highest in nearly a month and erased its loss for the year as investors turned their focus to the earnings season after there was no immediate reprisal to the USA -led missile strike in Syria and trade concerns took a back seat.

EMini futures for the S&P 500 sprang 0.6 percent higher in early trade, while Japan's Nikkei added 0.3 percent.

In Korea, technology shares were a mixed picture, with Samsung Electronics gaining 1.1% while manufacturing stocks were mostly lower.

"The markets are taking the surgical strike at the heart of Syria's chemical weapon programme in their stride as traders had priced in this outcome with a high degree of probability", Stephen Innes, head of Asia-Pacific trade at OANDA, said in a note.

Asian markets fell on Monday after a US-led strike on Syrian targets fuelled fresh geopolitical concerns over the Middle East.

Looking ahead, the USA earnings season kicks into high gear this week with Thomson Reuters data predicting profits at S&P 500 companies increased by 18.6 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, their biggest rise in seven years.

Studies find new ways to use immune-boosting lung cancer drugs
More than 69% of the combination group were alive at a year, compared to 49% of those who used chemotherapy alone. The two drugs help jump-start the immune system to attack cancer.

S&P 500 companies are expected to report an 18.6 percent jump in first-quarter profit, on average, the biggest rise in seven years, according to Thomson Reuters data.

The dollar index against a basket of six major currencies was little changed at 89.441 after losing 0.4% overnight.

The dollar inched up 0.2 percent on the yen to 107.53 yen, and away from last week's low around 106.62.

The euro was flat at $1.2380.

The pound rose to $1.4355, its highest since June 2016, with focus on data that could cement expectations of a May interest-rate increase from the Bank of England.

Property firms in Hong Kong took a hit on fears of an end to the era of low-interest rates as the city's de facto central bank was forced to support the local dollar, which is at 7.85 to the greenback, the lowest end of its band with the U.S. unit.

Aluminium hovered near seven-year highs reached the previous day after USA sanctions on Russian producer Rusal stirred supply concerns. Safe-haven assets eased in response, with yields on USA 10-year Treasury debt up two basis points at 2.84 percent.

United States crude oil futures rose 0.4% to $66.49 a barrel after tumbling almost 1.8% overnight as the concern over tension in the Middle East waned.

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