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Asian stocks rise on back of Wall Street; gold slips

HONG KONG Asian stocks opened higher on the back of a strong Wall Street with markets discounting the potential impact of Italy’s referendum vote, while U.S. Treasury yields firmed as robust economic data pointed to an interest rate hike next week.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.4 percent in early trade with Antiopodean markets leading gains. Korea .KS11 climbed 1 percent in opening trades.

Wall Street rose on Monday, with the Dow Jones industrials setting fresh record highs following services sector data that showed further strength in the domestic economy.

U.S. services sector activity hit a one-year high in November, with a surge in production boosting hiring, following on the heels of Friday’s employment report that showed strong job gains last month.

The data pushed short-dated Treasury yields higher with two-year benchmark yields stabilizing near the 1.13 percent level, not far from a six-year high of 1.17 percent tested in late November as markets have baked in the probability of a rate increase by the U.S. Federal Reserve next week.

Interest rates futures FFZ6 implied traders saw a 93 percent chance the Fed would raise rates by a quarter point to 0.50-0.75 percent next week, CME Group’s FedWatch showed.

Oil fell with U.S. crude CLc1 down more than 1 percent at $51.26 per barrel as investors judged a 16 percent rally since the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries’ agreement last Wednesday to curb production was getting stale. [O/R]

Still, higher stocks and firmer short-dated Treasury yields projected a more optimistic backdrop for risk appetite than Monday when Asian markets plunged as investors worried the euro-zone may be heading for a fresh crisis after the Italian vote.

That lift in sentiment pushed the prices of relative safe-haven assets such as gold and Japanese yen JPY= lower.

Spot gold XAU= fell by as much as 1.6 percent to its lowest since early February at $1,157 an ounce, before bouncing somewhat.

(Reporting by Saikat Chatterjee; Editing by Eric Meijer)