Asian shares hovered near 14-month highs on Monday, shaking off an early dip after disappointing earnings from U.S. corporate bellwethers such as General Electric Co spurred some investors to take profits.
European shares were set for a slight rise at the start, with futures on the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 up 0.3 percent in early trade and tracking gains in S&P 500 futures
Oil prices pushed up to a one-year high of $79.05 giving a boost to energy-related shares and helping stocks around the region recover from early selling of financial shares.
South Korean technology exporters such as Samsung Electronics also climbed on a weaker won helping lift the KOSPI 0.5 percent.
The dollar edged up, thanks mainly to a retreat in the euro as European policymakers voiced some concerns that the single currency's surge is approaching levels that would damage the euro zone's recovery. Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker said he was concerned about a continuous euro rise.
But the U.S. currency's gains were slight, and activity was limited as investors focused on what the next batch of quarterly earnings will say about how companies are managing the recovery from the deepest global recession in decades.
Some 135 of the companies in the S&P 500 will report quarterly results this week, with the battered financial sector expected to post the highest growth rate, according to Thomson Reuters data.
What we're seeing is just profit-taking, with Wall Street's Friday fall providing the excuse, along with a sense that the market may have risen too far, too fast, said Noritsugu Hirakawa, a strategist at Okasan Securities in Tokyo.
After rallying strongly for more than seven months, stocks have lost some momentum in recent weeks on fears that corporate earnings expectations are far too optimistic given the still frail U.S. economy.
The S&P 500 fell 0.8 percent on Friday after results from GE and Bank of America Corp highlighted that the road to recovery will be bumpy.
The benchmark MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was unchanged and not far from its 14-month peak hit on Thursday. So far this year, the index is up 65 percent.
Asia ex-Japan shares remain among the top performers in the world as the region has powered out of the recession the strongest, while its major companies have benefitted from a pick-up in demand for electronics.
The Thomson Reuters index of Asia ex-Japan shares slipped 0.2 percent, while Japan's Nikkei average edged down 0.2 percent.
CREDIT SPREADS TIGHTEN
The latest run higher in stocks has been accompanied by an investor shift into Asian fixed-income and credit markets that has pushed spreads tighter, prompting issuers to roll out new bonds to take advantage of attractive funding levels.
The iTraxx credit derivatives index of top Asian companies was quoted at 95 basis points after shrinking below the 100 basis points threshold last week for the first time in 17 months, underscoring the strong demand for higher yields.
In currencies, the euro was flat at $1.4899 but shed 0.3 percent against the yen to 135.20 yen The dollar index, a gauge of its performance against six major currencies, was unchanged at 75.627
Commodities also drifted sideways. U.S. crude oil prices pared early gains and steadied at $78.53 a barrel while gold rose $1.40 an ounce to $1,053.65
Government bonds were mixed and swap rates fell in some countries after having surged in Australia, New Zealand and South Korea last week on expectations that their respective central banks will be lifting interest rates in coming months.
The five-year Korean swap rate was unchanged at 4.59 percent after reaching 4.60 percent on Friday, a one-year high. The five-year Australian swap rate dropped 1 basis point to 6.04 percent, off a one-year peak of 6.12 percent.
Reserve Bank of Australia Assistant Governor Philip Lowe said that it was appropriate for the central bank to go back to a more normal monetary policy setting, reinforcing expectations another rate hike is coming in November after an increase this month to 3.25 percent -- the first of the G20 to tighten policy.
(Additional reporting by Elaine Lies in Tokyo)
(Editing by Kim Coghill)