The dollar edged further away from 14-month lows on Monday as investors trimmed bets against the beleaguered U.S. currency, while South Korean stocks dragged down other Asian markets on worries third-quarter earnings may not live up to expectations.
European shares were set for a positive start, with futures on the Dow Jones Euro Stoxx 50 up 0.8 percent.
Trading activity was limited due to a holiday in Japan and with most U.S. financial markets closed later in the day for Columbus Day.
South Korea's KOSPI led the decline among Asian markets and shed 0.4 percent, hurt by heavyweights such as Samsung Electronics <005930.KS> and steelmaking giant POSCO <005490.KS>.
Some investors were starting to get nervous about the third-quarter earnings season, especially as economic data out of the United States in the past few weeks has suggested that its rebound from a deep recession may be losing momentum.
Shares are likely to be volatile for some time, as investors increasingly want to confirm with their own eyes whether economic data and results are in line with earlier hyped-up expectations, said Hong Soon-pyo, a market analyst at Daishin Securities in Seoul.
Quarterly results from major U.S. banks and companies this week are seen as a key reality check for whether a seven-month rally in stocks this year has more legs. Among those reporting are Intel Corp
Cost cutting has been the main driver of second-quarter earnings, but the main focus in Q3 is the ability to generate revenue, said analysts at Calyon in a note to clients.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> dipped 0.3 percent, with material and financial shares among the biggest drags. But for the year, the index is up about 62 percent.
The Thomson Reuters regional index <.TRXFLDAXPU> was also down 0.3 percent.
Equity indexes were mixed across the region, with the MSCI index for India <.MSCIIN> up nearly 1 percent and Singapore <.MSCISG> rising 0.7 percent.
Shares of POSCO, the world's fourth-largest steelmaker, dropped 0.7 percent before what is expected to be upbeat earnings and guidance on Wednesday. According to data from Thomson Reuters StarMine, POSCO is likely to post a positive surprise in quarterly earnings compared with median estimates.
DOLLAR IN REPRIEVE
The dollar won a brief reprieve late last week from a steady slide that has raised worries about the waning status of the world's reserve currency and prompted some central banks in Asia to intervene in foreign exchange markets to stem corresponding gains in their own currencies.
The dollar index, a gauge of its performance against six major currencies, edged up 0.1 percent to 76.496 <.DXY> after falling as far as 75.767 last week. The dollar climbed 0.6 percent to 90.22 yen, while the euro shed 0.1 percent to $1.4709.
The greenback has been battered by investors shifting funds out of safe-haven U.S. Treasuries and money markets and into emerging market assets, and by worries that central banks are cutting their share of foreign reserves held in dollars.
Thailand's central bank governor signaled on Monday that it would intervene further to curb gains in the baht against the dollar and said it was diversifying reserves after weeks of such intervention.
South Korean government bonds dipped despite the drop in stocks, giving up some of their big gains from Friday when the Bank of Korea tried to tamp down expectations for an interest rate increase as soon as next month.
Three-year KTB bond futures dipped 0.01 point to 109.05, while one-year swap rates edged up a basis point to 3.50 percent after dropping 11 basis points on Friday -- the biggest one-day drop in nine months -- on the BOK's shift in tone.
Gold edged up near last week's record but the dollar's rebound as well as worries about falling jewelry demand in main consumer India were likely to limit gains.
Spot gold was quoted at $1,049.45 an ounce, up $1.20 from New York's close and within striking distance of a lifetime high of $1,061.20 an ounce hit last Thursday. Bullion gained nearly 5 percent last week, its best weekly performance in nearly half a year.
Oil futures rose about 1 percent and topped $72 a barrel on growing optimism about the pace of the global economic recovery and a positive demand forecast from the International Energy Agency (IEA).
The IEA said world oil demand will recover at a faster pace than previously expected for the rest of this year and next as the economy picks up.
(Additional reporting by Jungyoun Park in Seoul)
(Editing by Kim Coghill)