Asian stock markets were subdued on Monday in a week book-ended with Easter holidays across the globe and a U.S. jobs report that could affect the timing of the first hike in interest rates there. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.4 percent, with Australia’s main index down 1.4 percent amid weakness in commodity prices.
Japan’s Nikkei dithered on either side of zero though there was some talk of demand for the new month and quarter. Seoul edged 0.2 percent into the black. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday reaffirmed that rates would likely start rising later this year but emphasized the pace of tightening would be gradual and data-dependent.
The conditional outlook helped nudge longer-dated Treasury yields lower and left the dollar listless for the moment. It fetched 119.19 yen on Monday, a whisker higher than at the end of last week and short of the near eight-year peak of 122.04 set early this month. The euro eased a touch to $1.0877, having in the last two weeks pulled up from a 12-year trough of $1.0457.