* Asia ex-Japan set to post fourth straight week of gains
* European markets set for mixed start with slight moves
* Nikkei slides, posts loss for the week
* Wall Street rally loses steam as investors take profits
* Dollar inches up after Thursday's slide
* Oil rises as optimism over OPEC cuts outweighs rising US
By Nichola Saminather
SINGAPORE, Feb 17 (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
Financial spreadbetter CMC Markets expects Britain's FTSE
100 to start the day flat, Germany's DAX to be slightly
higher and France's CAC 40 to be marginally lower, with
markets failing to recover Thursday's losses.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
pulled back 0.2 percent, on track to end the
week up 1.2 percent, its fourth straight weekly gain.
Overnight, Wall Street lost momentum, with the Dow Jones
Industrial Average barely eking out its sixth straight
record high, while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq snapped
a seven-day winning streak as investors slowed buying to digest
U.S. President Donald Trump's first solo news conference on
Thursday, where he adopted a combative stance against the news
media and deflected questions about contacts between his
presidential campaign and Russian operatives, also gave
"Apart from a reflection of the slight easing in U.S. market
momentum after several strong days, investors are making some
greater allowance for rising risk," said Angus Gluskie, managing
director of White Funds Management in Sydney. "Trump’s erratic
performance in the press conference has had a destabilising
influence on investor confidence."
The arrest of Samsung Group chief Jay Y. Lee over his
alleged role in a government corruption scandal is also a source
of concern, Gluskie said.
Until Thursday, the index had beaten its previous intraday
highs for seven consecutive sessions, and closed at 19-month
highs in the past two.
A batch of positive economic data out of Asia this week,
driven by improving exports and rising commodity prices, has
bolstered shares, although concerns linger that any
protectionist threats posed by Trump could reverse the recovery.
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 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.
The CSI 300 index lost 0.4 percent after gaining
as much as 0.5 percent, on track for a weekly advance of the
Hong Kong shares 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
Manufacturing activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region
surged to its highest in 33 years, housing data indicated a
recovery in the sector was on track, and weekly jobless claims
pointed to a labour market that continues to tighten.
But traders concluded that Fed Chair Janet Yellen's economic
testimony before Congress on Wednesday didn't offer enough
conviction that the central bank would raise rates at its next
meeting in March.
The dollar climbed almost 0.2 percent on Friday to 113.41
yen, up by the same percentage for the week. It lost
about 0.8 percent on Thursday.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against
a basket of trade-weighted peers, was fractionally higher at
100.49, on track to end the week 0.3 percent lower. It tumbled
0.7 percent on Thursday.
The euro was little changed at $1.0671 on Friday, retaining
Thursday's 0.7 percent gain, and set to end the week 0.3 percent
The stronger dollar on Friday weighed on gold, which
slipped 0.1 percent to $1,237.36 an ounce. But the precious
metal remains poised for a 0.3 percent rise for the week.
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.
For now, that optimism appears to be winning the tug of war
with concerns over a rise in U.S. production, but the worry is
set to leave oil prices with a weekly loss.
U.S. crude added 0.2 percent to $53.42 a barrel, but
is headed for a decline of 0.8 percent for the week.
Global benchmark Brent crude advanced 0.1 percent to
$55.74, narrowing the week's loss to 1.7 percent.
(Reporting by Nichola Saminather; Editing by Eric Meijer and