May 3, 2018 / 8:28 AM / 19 days ago

GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares stricken by trade tension, dollar holds gains

(Updates levels throughout)

* Most Asia share markets slip before Sino-US trade discussions

* Dollar just off multi-month highs as Fed stays the course

* Oil prices inch higher, gold up a tad

By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY, May 3 (Reuters) - Asian shares slipped on Thursday as hopes waned for real progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks, while the U.S. dollar consolidated recent bumper gains after the Federal Reserve reaffirmed the outlook for more rate hikes.

Spreadbetters pointed to a soft start for European shares, with FTSE futures down 0.1 percent and Germany’s Dax futures slipped 0.3 percent.

Souring the mood were reports the Trump administration is considering executive action to restrict some Chinese companies’ ability to sell telecoms equipment in the United States.

Talks between U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are due to kick off later on Thursday.

However, a breakthrough was viewed as highly unlikely, especially as the U.S. embassy said their delegation would leave as early as Friday evening.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5 percent, while South Korean stocks stumbled 0.7 percent.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index skidded 1.3 percent but Chinese shares bucked the trend. The blue chip CSI 300 was up 0.8 percent but not far from an eight-month low hit in April.

Japan’s Nikkei was closed for a holiday, while E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 were a tad firmer.

Wall Street had wobbled on Wednesday as the threat of U.S. restrictions on Chinese telecom companies fuelled investor concerns about worsening trade relations.

The Fed policy meeting ended with no change, as expected, while the central bank expressed confidence a recent rise in inflation to near target would be sustained, leaving it on track to raise borrowing costs in June.

“The statement carried only modest changes in wording, but they were meaningful nonetheless, highlighting that the Fed is optimistic on the outlook and intent on continuing to raise rates at a gradual pace,” said Westpac analyst Elliot Clarke.

Yet the Fed also emphasised the inflation target was “symmetric”, suggesting it was not inclined to speed up its tightening plans.

“The Fed sees little reason to be concerned with inflation marginally above its 2.0 percent target, particularly after such a long period of underperformance,” Clarke said.

Westpac, like the market, expects two more hikes this year.

TRUMP TO END IRAN DEAL?

The Fed statement was not quite as hawkish as some had wagered on and caused a dip in the dollar, though sentiment remained bullish given U.S. rates were still clearly heading higher while those in Europe and Japan lagged far behind.

The euro was last at $1.1979 having hit a 15-week trough at $1.1936 on Wednesday, uncomfortably close to the low for the year at $1.1915.

The dollar also scored a three-month peak on the yen at 110.05 overnight, before edging back to 109.66.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index was trading at 92.450, after reaching the highest since late December at 92.834.

In the Treasury market, yields dipped slightly as a quarterly refunding programme of $73 billion came in short of expectations, reducing the pressure on prices from the torrent of supply.

Oil prices inched higher with Brent crude futures up 3 cents to $73.38 a barrel, while U.S. crude added 10 cent to $68.04.

Spot gold was up 0.3 percent at $1,308.9 an ounce.

Additional reporting by Swati Pandey; Editing by Richard Borsuk and Sam Holmes

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