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Asian shares down from 18-month top; oil steady after U.S. strikes

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Asian shares down from 18-month top; oil steady after U.S. strikes

SHANGHAI (Reuters) – A broad gauge of Asian share markets fell on Monday as investors consolidated gains after scaling 18-month highs last week, while oil was steady after the U.S. carried out air strikes on an Iranian-backed Shi’ite Muslim militia group in Iraq and Syria.

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FILE PHOTO: Investors look at computer screens showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China May 6, 2019. REUTERS/Aly Song/File Photo Around 0145 GMT, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was 0.09% lower. The index had touched its highest level since June 19, 2018 on Friday, lifted by investor hopes that a U.S.-China trade deal would be signed soon.

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Chinese blue chips .CSI300 were 0.15% lower, while Australian shares shed 0.56%. Japan‘s Nikkei stock index .N225 slid 0.51%.Easing trade war worries and reduced uncertainty over the United Kingdom’s plans to leave the European Union after British elections returned a strong Conservative majority have offered a lift to global equities this month, helping the broad MSCI Asia index rise more than 6% and putting it on track for its strongest month since January

Kay Van-Petersen, global macro strategist at Saxo Capital Markets, said that limited liquidity near the year-end and easing of U.S.-China trade and Brexit uncertainties has “just left us drifting up higher. So even if there is a pullback… I don’t think it’s going to be significant by any means.”

Holiday cheer had lifted global equity markets late last week, helping the S&P 500 .SPX and the Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI to eke out record closing highs on Friday

The Dow ended 0.08% higher at 28,645.26 and the S&P .SPX edged up just 0.11 points to 3,240.02. The Nasdaq Composite .IXIC lost steam at the close, falling 0.17% to 9,006.62

Oil also gained on Friday, with prices posting their fourth consecutive weekly gain to steady around three-month highs. On Monday, global benchmark Brent crude LCOc1 was up 0.07% to $68.21 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude shaved off 0.05% to $61.69 per barrel

The small moves in oil came despite news of U.S. air strikes in Iraq and Syria against Kataib Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia group. U.S. officials said Sunday that the attacks were successful, but warned that “additional actions” may be taken to defend U.S. interests

Stephen Innes, strategist at AxiTrader, said that the rise of shale oil production helped to dampen the effect of geopolitical risks

“Shale can really ramp up more volumes to accommodate any shortfall that could possibly be triggered by escalation in Syria,” he said, adding that an upsurge in populism in Iraq posed a larger risk to markets

Iraq’s oil ministry said on Sunday that the halting of oil production at Iraq’s southern Nassiriya oilfield by protesters would not effect the country’s exports and production operations

Gold also continued its run-up, after posting its best week in more than four months on Friday amid thin trading volumes, in a sign that some investors continue to see risks to global growth and U.S.-China trade

The precious metal was last trading up 0.25% at $1,514.19 per ounce on the spot market. XAU=[GOL/]

In the currency market, the dollar was 0.07% lower against the yen at 109.33 JPY= and the euro EUR= was up 0.17% on the day at $1.1194

The dollar index .DXY, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was down by a hair to 96.891

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes US10YT=RR was at 1.8787% in thin trade compared with its U.S. close of 1.873% on Friday, while the two-year yield US2YT=RR edged down to 1.5812% compared with a U.S. close of 1.589%

Graphic: Asian stock markets here

Reporting by Andrew Galbraith; Editing by Michael Perry