Asian shares slip, dollar stands tall on Fed hike bets

TOKYO, Aug 22 (Reuters) – Asian shares slipped on Monday and the dollar pulled away from last week’s lows on expectations that a signal might emerge from a Federal Reserve gathering this week in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, that the US central bank is gearing up to hike interest rates.

Global central bankers will join the annual mountain retreat that opens on Thursday, with Fed Chair Janet Yellen due to speak the following day.

The Jackson Hole meeting "looks set to dominate trade this week," wrote Angus Nicholson, market analyst at IG in Melbourne.

"The DXY US dollar index already seemed to be looking ahead for some slightly more upbeat language on the US economy coming out this week as it rallied 0.4 percent on Friday," he said.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was up 0.2 percent in early trade at 94.722, pulling away from last week’s low of 94.077, which was its lowest since June 24.

Early on Monday, the dollar was up 0.4 percent against its Japanese counterpart at 100.59 yen, while the euro was down 0.2 percent at $1.1299, pulling away from last week’s eight-week high of $1.1366.

Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer gave a generally upbeat assessment of the US economy’s current strength in prepared remarks on Sunday, saying the job market was close to full strength and still improving.

"We are close to our targets," Fischer said, but did not directly address when the US central bank should next raise interest rates.

New York Fed President William Dudley said last week that a rate hike would be possible at the Fed’s next policy meeting in September, although interest rate futures contracts indicate that the market is pricing in about 50/50 odds of an increase in December.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 percent, after losing 0.3 percent last week. Wall Street logged modest losses on Friday, ending nearly flat for the week.

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Japan’s Nikkei rose 0.3 percent in early trade, taking solace from a weaker currency, but then shed the gains. It had skidded 2.2 percent last week, as the dollar dipped below 100 yen.

Crude oil futures dropped, giving back some of their recent gains that propelled oil into bull market territory, after technicals had it in a bear market early this month.

Crude futures have risen almost $10 a barrel since early August on speculation that Saudi Arabia and other members of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries will agree next month to a production freeze deal with non-OPEC producers led by Russia.

US crude fell 0.6 percent to $48.25 after gaining 9 percent last week, rising for a second straight week. Brent crude was 0.9 percent lower at $50.43 a barrel, after gaining 8 percent last week, rising for a third week in a row.

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