* MSCI Asia ex-Japan up 0.6 pct to one-week high
* Gold capped as investors turn to risk assets
* Nikkei struggles as ex-dividend effect weighs
* Euro hovers near four-month lows vs dollar
* European shares likely inch higher
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, March 27 Asian shares rose on Wednesday,
comforted by positive U.S. data pointing to a moderate recovery
in the economy, but worries over the implications of the Cyprus
bank bailout deal, and the losses it imposed on investors,
weighed on the euro.
European markets were seen adding small gains, with
financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100,
Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX likely to
open around 0.3 percent higher. Benchmark indices in Spain
and Italy were seen likely to open 0.1 percent
and 0.2 percent higher.
U.S. stock futures were up 0.1 percent to point to a
modestly firmer Wall Street start.
"Europe remains transfixed on Cyprus, and while the market
has moved on from the country itself, the focus is now more
firmly on broader implications," said Chris Weston, chief market
strategist at IG Markets, adding that the banking industry in
Europe must change its ways.
"The banks are fully in focus and another day of weakness
could have implications on other asset classes like EUR/USD, for
example, given the correlation," he said.
Data on Tuesday showed demand for U.S.-made durable goods
surged in February while single-family home prices logged their
biggest annual increase since June 2006. Consumer confidence
tumbled in March, but stock markets focused on the good news,
taking the Dow Jones industrial average to a record
closing high and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index to just
below a record closing peak.
"Sentiment is not at all weak and the U.S. is clearly
leading the markets higher," said Tetsuro Ii, the chief
executive of Commons Asset Management, in Tokyo.
"Europe will likely remain in the doldrums but the U.S. is
recovering and China is also expected to keep its economy going
under the new leadership," he said.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan rose 0.6 percent to a one-week high.
Australian shares gained 0.9 percent, their biggest
percentage rise in nearly two weeks, led by financials and
Hong Kong shares rose 0.5 percent, supported by
Chinese banks after two of the "Big Four" reported 2012
corporate earnings largely in line with expectations. Shanghai
shares bucked the trend to fall 0.3 percent.
Japan's Nikkei stock average closd up 0.2 percent,
after spending most of the day in the negative, after many
shares went ex-dividend.
Ii said investors were beginning to turn to factors other
than the Bank of Japan's monetary policy to justify buying
Japanese stocks. These factors include betting on deregulation
that will help spur growth in Japan, or how the yen's weakening
and the Nikkei's rising over recent months will be reflected in
corporate earnings when reporting starts in late April.
CYPRUS, THE DESTABILISER
The euro eased 0.1 percent to $1.2853, hovering near
a four-month low of $1.2828 touched on Tuesday, and capped by
its 200-day moving average of around $1.2880. The euro closed
below the key technical level on Monday for the first time since
The euro underpinned the dollar against a basket of major
currencies, which was nearing a 7-1/2-month peak of
83.166 set earlier this month. The U.S. currency rose 0.3
percent against the yen to 94.72 on expectations of
stronger monetary stimulus under new central bank leadership
following the BOJ's policy meeting next week.
Investors shifting money to chase higher premiums on risk
assets such as stocks put a lid on safe-haven bullion, keeping
spot gold capped below $1,600 an ounce, barely holding
above its 14-day moving average.
The Cyprus rescue scheme averted an imminent banking
collapse but the measure requiring bank bondholders and large
depositors to take heavy losses raised concerns, notably the
risk of this model being used in the future and spurring a run
on banks in other euro zone countries with much larger banking
systems than Cyprus's.
The island state is expected to complete capital control
measures on Wednesday to prevent a run on the banks by
depositors anxious about their savings after the country agreed
a painful rescue package with international lenders.
U.S. crude futures fell 0.3 percent to $96.08 a
barrel and Brent inched down 0.1 percent to $109.26.