* Construction counters among top gainers on economic zone
* Dollar holds firm on settlement demand
* Gold consolidates gains as Xi-Trump summit nears
* Bonds see some profit taking
By Saikat Chatterjee
HONG KONG, April 5 Asian stocks edged up on
Wednesday, helped by a bounce in Chinese shares, though
investors held off from making big bets before a
highly-anticipated summit between U.S. President Donald Trump
and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping gets underway on
European stocks were set to follow Asia's steady lead with
index futures pointing to a slightly higher start.
Chinese construction shares were among the top gainers after
Beijing on Saturday announced plans to build Xiongan New Area,
modelled on the Shenzhen special economic zone next to Hong Kong
that helped kickstart China's economic reforms in 1980.
"This is a very headline-driven market and the only source
of optimism is the new economic zone news over the weekend - but
that is unlikely to be sustainable," said Conita Hung, an
independent market strategist in Hong Kong.
Shares in more than 30 listed companies seen likely to
benefit from the new zone jumped by the 10 percent daily trade
Mainland markets reopened on Wednesday for trading
after a long weekend and outperformed regional bourses, rising
more than 1 percent. Hong Kong stocks gave up early gains
and were flat on the day.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.1 percent, edging back towards a 19-month
high hit on March. 30. India's shares opened at a record
high before retreating.
Energy-related shares also offered some support to investors
as oil prices rose on Tuesday thanks to an unplanned production
outage in the North Sea and growing concerns about diminishing
U.S. oil stocks.
U.S. crude rose for a second consecutive session to
its highest levels in more than a month at $51.37 per barrel on
Still, investors remained broadly cautious with safe-haven
assets such as gold and Japanese yen remaining
well supported before the landmark Trump-Xi summit on Thursday
It will be their first face-to-face meeting since Trump took
office on Jan. 20, with trade and security issues set to feature
prominently. The Korean Peninsula has been a notable hot spot of
geopolitical tensions, with North Korea firing a medium-range
ballistic missile from its east coast into the sea on the eve of
the summit. and
"Markets are really on hold at the moment," said Ric
Spooner, Chief market strategist at CMC markets, adding that
investors are looking to catalysts from the Trump-Xi meeting as
well as the U.S. earnings season.
Gold held near a one-month high at $1,254.45 per ounce,
rising nearly 4.7 percent in the last three weeks.
Major currencies traded in a narrow range ahead of the
release of minutes from the Fed March meeting in which it raised
interest rates, and before the big U.S. jobs report on Friday.
The greenback got some help from Japanese importers on a
'gotobi' date - the fifth day of the month and dates that are
multiple of five - on which accounts are traditionally settled.
The dollar held firm at 110.61 yen against the
"Today, there is real demand for the dollar on 'gotobi,' so
its downside should be limited," said Kaneo Ogino, director at
foreign exchange research firm Global-info Co in Tokyo.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against
a basket of six trade-weighted peers, was broadly flat at
100.52. The euro was a shade stronger at $1.06795.
Bonds came in for some profit-taking after yields fell in
the previous sessions. Yields on two-year U.S. Treasury bonds
rose to 1.26 percent after hitting a six-week low of
1.226 percent on Monday.
(Additional reporting by the Tokyo markets team and Krishna
Kurup in BENGALURU; Editing by Eric Meijer & Shri Navaratnam)