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Asia stocks slip on specter of higher U.S. rates, dollar is 'a freight train'

Men walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, November 18, 2016. REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Men walk past an electronic board showing Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, November 18, 2016.

Most Asian stock markets fell on Thursday as upbeat economic data strengthened the prospect for higher U.S. interest rates, while the dollar's bull run continued with U.S. bond yields propelled to multi-year highs.

Japanese stocks swam against the tide and rose to a near 11-month high as the yen weakened.

Spreadbetters saw a mixed opening for European stocks, forecasting a slightly lower open for Britain's FTSE .FTSE, a marginally higher open for Germany's DAX .GDAXI and a flat start for France's CAC .FCHI.

The dollar index against major currencies rose 0.1 percent to 101.78 .DXY, not far from a 13-1/2-year high of 101.91 touched overnight.

The greenback drew support from a further rise in U.S. Treasury yields.

The two-year yield US2YT=RR hit its highest levels since April 2010 on Wednesday on further bets the Trump administration will increase debt-funded spending and spur growth and inflation.

Such a view - which has also lifted expectations for more U.S. rate hikes next year - was reinforced on Wednesday after new orders of U.S. manufactured capital goods rebounded in October. Consumer sentiment also jumped in November.

"It (the U.S. dollar) is a freight train that seems over limit at the moment, but it may have a long way to go before what looks and feels like a structural adjustment settles down," said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at CFD and FX provider AxiTrader.

The dollar was up 0.1 percent at 112.650 yen JPY= after touching an eight-month high of 112.980 overnight. It has gained roughly seven big figures since Trump's victory earlier this month.

The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.0543 EUR= after touching $1.0526 overnight, its lowest since December 2015. The common currency has dropped nearly 4 percent in November.

The firm dollar kept most emerging market currencies on the ropes, with China's yuan nearing the 7 per dollar level for the first time since May 2008.

State banks or foreign exchange authorities in China, India, Indonesia and the Philippines were all suspected of intervening to slow the slide in their currencies on Thursday.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS pared Wednesday's gains and lost 0.4 percent as focus returned to the United States. Facing the prospect of higher U.S. interest rates diverting money from emerging markets, it has lost 3.5 percent this month.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI shed 0.2 percent while higher metals prices lifted China's blue-chip CSI300 index .CSI300 0.4 percent. South Korea's Kospi .KS11 fell 0.7 percent amid receding foreign investor appetite.

"The amount of foreign stock-dumping is likely to increase during the session due to the strong dollar and the absence of any momentum for the South Korean market to rebound," said Ha Keon-hyeong, a foreign exchange analyst at Shinhan Investment Corp.

Japan's Nikkei .N225 was up 1.1 percent, touching its highest level since early January.

Equities in emerging and developed economies have headed in different directions since Trump's win.

Higher U.S. yields have pulled those of other developed economies from rock-bottom levels, with investor money now expected to flow back from emerging markets which had offered relatively higher rates.

The Dow .DJI marked a record closing high overnight. Germany's DAX has gained nearly 2 percent since the victory by the Republican candidate. On the other hand, MSCI's emerging markets index .MSCIEF has fallen 5.8 percent this month.

Japan's 30-year bond yield JP30YTN=JBTC rose to an eight-month peak of 0.650 percent. The German 10-year bund DE10YT=TWEB yielded around 2.6 percent on Wednesday, having climbed from a record low of minus 0.2 percent struck in July.

Oil prices were little changed amid uncertainty ahead of a planned OPEC-led crude production cut at a meeting on Nov. 30.

U.S. crude was up 3 cents at $47.99 a barrel CLc1 and Brent LCOc1 was flat at $48.95.

London zinc CMZN3 hit an 8-year high and copper jumped for a fourth day in a row as funds poured into metals on expectations of growing strength in the U.S. manufacturing sector.

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