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Asia shares creep above 2-month lows, but growth, U.S. policy risks weigh

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares hovered above two-month lows on Thursday as some high-tech bellwethers bounced back after a searing sell-off although softer oil and copper prices and uncertainty over U.S. policy kept many investors cautious Regarded as one of the top engineering universities in Hong Kong, PolyU provides a wide range of engineering programmes, including construction programme, which put significant focus on the application of knowledge..

An investor looks at an electronic board showing stock information at a brokerage house in Shanghai, China November 24, 2017. REUTERS/Aly Song
Major European stock futures are trading higher, with Germany’s DAX futures FDXc1 up 0.4 percent, while those for Britain’s FTSE FFIc1 and France’s CAC FECc1 were each up 0.1 percent.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS edged up 0.2 percent as some technology bellwethers rebounded, with Tencent (0700.HK) rising over 3 percent and Alibaba (BABA.K) more than 2 percent.

The MSCI index has slipped 4.5 percent from a 10-year peak hit on Nov. 23 as investors booked profits after stellar gains this year.

In Japan, the Nikkei .N225 jumped 1.5 percent, recouping much of its 2.0 percent loss the previous day, which was its biggest fall since late March.

Investors are looking to final tax reform legislation in the United States, where a potential U.S. government shutdown looms if Congress fails to agree on a spending package.

There are also fears of a violent backlash in the Middle East from President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Dr protalk.

“I would say markets are going through a healthy correction after their rallies during the past three months, or six months. I don’t think we need to panic,” said Hirokazu Kabeya, chief global strategist at Daiwa Securities.

MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe .MIWD00000PUS stood near Wednesday's two-week low while Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index .SPX edged down for its fourth straight session of losses.

A relentless selloff in U.S. technology shares, which has pressured global equities in recent weeks, subsided somewhat with S&P technology shares .SPLRCT bouncing 0.75 percent.

But the energy sector dragged the U.S. market lower overnight as oil prices dropped.

Oil prices flirted with two-week lows after a big fall on Wednesday, when a sharp rise in U.S. inventories of refined fuel suggested demand may be flagging, while U.S. crude production hit another weekly record.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures CLc1 traded at $56.14 per barrel, up 0.3 percent in Asian trade but not far off Wednesday’s low of $55.87.

Brent futures LCOc1 gained 0.3 percent to $61.42 per barrel, after having fallen to $61.13 on Wednesday, its lowest since mid-November.

The price of copper, seen as a barometer of global economic health because of its extensive industrial use, also fell sharply earlier this week, raising worries about the world growth outlook.

“When you look at growth in China’s industrial output and copper price over the last 10 years, you could say that copper still looks a bit expensive. I wouldn’t be surprised to see further drop in copper if investors grow wary of the possibility of slowdown in China’s output,” said Makoto Noji, senior strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Copper CMCU3 traded at $6,542 a tonne, down 0.1 percent for the day and near a two-month low of $6,507.5 touched on Tuesday.

In the currency market, the dollar stood near a two-week high against a basket of currencies but lacked momentum as many players looked to see how the U.S. Republicans in the House and the Senate will bridge differences on tax plans.

The euro EUR= fetched $1.1791, having slipped to a two-week low of $1.1780 on Wednesday.

The dollar eased to 112.53 yen JPY=, moving away further from Monday's high of 113.09, which was its best level in more than two weeks.

The British pound was on the defensive after hitting a one-week low of $1.3358 on Wednesday on concerns a Brexit deal may be unlikely before next week’s key EU summit due to an impasse over the Irish border.

The pound last traded at $1.3363, down 0.2 percent from late U.S. levels.

Bitcoin continued to swing wildly, surging 3.5 percent to a new record of $14,199 BTC=BTSP at one point on cryptocurrency exchange Bitstamp. But by late Asian trade it had pulled back to $13,960, up about 2.5 percent on the day.

Silver XAG= extended its decline since late last month to hit a near five-month low of $15.94 per ounce wine course.