Shares ease

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    TOKYO- Asian shares pulled back from a one-and-a-half year peak on Thursday as investors booked profits ahead of holiday trade and awaited further data on the state of the global economy.

    Investors were also watching proceedings in Washington where the Democrat-led US House of Representatives voted to impeach Republican US President Donald Trump for abuse of power and obstruction of Congress.

    Market reaction, however, has so far been limited as the Republican-controlled Senate is widely expected not to vote to remove Trump from office.

    MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan briefly touched the highest since June 2018 but then fell 0.2 percent.

    Australian shares erased early gains to trade 0.14 percent lower due to declines in the mining sector, while Chinese share drifted 0.06 percent lower.

    The pound nursed heavy losses due to concerns Britain could still crash out of the European Union without a trade deal in place after a transition period ending in December 2020.

    Traders also await a Bank of England (BoE) policy meeting later Thursday. No change in policy is expected, but the meeting could pose further downside risks for sterling if more policymakers swing to the dovish camp and vote for an interest rate cut.

    Overall sentiment was supportive of equities and riskier assets, but less favorable for safe-haven assets like bonds due to expectations that economic growth will start to pick up next year after a tumultuous 2019.

    “Data has been generally supportive of an improvement in economic performance,” said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney.

    “Investors can look forward to stronger growth next year, but a lot of this has already been reflected in share markets.” – Reuters