Asia markets ease after run of gains; oil lifted

Asia markets ease after run of gains; oil lifted

Singapore (Reuters): Asian stock markets took a breather on Friday from their recent surge as investors booked profits, while the dollar inched up after Thursday's slide and optimism over possible renewed supply cuts by OPEC lifted oil prices.

Financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expects Britain's FTSE 100 to start the day flat, Germany's DAX .GDAXI to be slightly higher and France's CAC 40 .FCHI to be marginally lower, with markets failing to recover Thursday's losses.

On Friday, Singapore revised its fourth-quarter gross domestic product growth sharply higher. Earlier in the week, Taiwan raised its 2017 economic growth target to a three-year high, Indonesia's January exports rose at the fastest pace in more than five years and China's January inflation picked up by more than expected to near six-year highs.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 closed 0.6 percent lower, down 0.7 percent for the week. Australian shares fell 0.2 percent at the close, shrinking the week's gains to 1.5 percent.

Chinese shares slipped after earlier touching a near two-month high after the securities regulator said that, starting Friday, it will relax certain rules on stock index futures trading as restrictions imposed during the 2015 stock market crash are unwound.

Hong Kong shares .HSI dropped 0.7 percent, but are still poised to close up 1.6 percent for the week.

The dollar edged up, but remained near the one-week low hit on Thursday, when it posted its biggest one-day drop in more than two weeks, as uncertainty about the timing of the next Federal Reserve rate hike offset the impact of stronger economic data.

Oil prices built on Thursday's gains, driven by a report that the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries may consider extending its oil supply-reduction pact with non-members and may even apply deeper cuts if inventories don't fall to a targeted level.