GLOBAL MARKETS-European shares seen mixed, eyes on data

Thu Sep 1, 2011 2:45am EDT

* European shares seen opening mixed

* MSCI Asia ex-Japan up 0.7 pct

* Nikkei up 1.2 pct, clears 9,000 for 1st time in two weeks

* China PMI reassures, but Asia's factory activity slowed in Aug

By Richard Pullin

MELBOURNE, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Asian stocks rose to a one-month high on Thursday, but pared gains late in the session on signals that European markets would not open firmly up on an uncertain global growth outlook that led Brazil to unexpectedly slash interest rates.

U.S. stocks futures SPc1 were up just 0.15 percent in late Asian trade, suggesting market caution ahead of the manufacturing and jobs data which may give clues as to whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will step in to support the economy.

Global shares have risen sharply in recent days, rebounding from heavy losses in August as signs of a weakening economy have led to speculation the Fed will introduce a new round of monetary expansion.

Asian stocks were buoyed by a series of surveys showing that China managed modest improvement in factory activity in August thanks to solid domestic demand, despite a slump in export activity that has hit many major Asian markets.

"The China PMI data gave some immediate relief to the market, but the U.S. data, particularly the employment numbers, are still to come," said Yutaka Shiraki, senior equity strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Brazil shocked investors by cutting its key interest rate to 12 percent from 12.5 percent on Wednesday, citing concern over the global slowdown as well as weaker growth in Latin America's largest economy.

EUROPE SEEN MIXED

European shares rose on Wednesday as the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares closed up 2.9 percent, but still fell 10.6 percent during August -- its worst monthly performance since October 2008, just after the Lehman Brothers collapse.

However, major European markets were seen opening mixed, according to financial spreadbetters, with Britain's FTSE 100 set to open between 8 points down and 2 points up.

The MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index was up 0.7 percent in late trade, having been up 1.4 percent early in the day.

In Japan, the Nikkei gained closed up 1.2 percent, clearing the key 9,000 level for the first time in two weeks, while South Korea's KOSPI also shed gains late in the day to be up only 0.1 percent as economic data showing the country's manufacturing sector shrank in August for the first time in 10 months.

CHINA DATA

China's official PMI offered some reassurance about the pace of growth, rising on Thursday to 50.9 in August from a 28-month low of 50.7 in July and signalling some stabilisation in the manufacturing sector on solid domestic demand.

However, the result was just below expectations and the sub-index for new export orders dipped to 48.3 from 50.4, curbing gains in mining stocks.

U.S. economic data on Wednesday showed the economy continues to struggle, and the U.S. Institute for Supply Management's national manufacturing index was due later on Thursday, followed by the U.S. Labour Department's employment report on Friday.

Fears that the ISM index may fall below 50 have been eased by a brighter than expected reading of manufacturing activity in the Chicago area released on Wednesday.

Also on Thursday, the White House will release its delayed midsession budget review, updating projections for the U.S. economy ahead of a congressional review to lower the deficit by $1.5 trillion over 10 years.

Among currencies, the yen fell across the board after dollar buying by Japanese accounts lifted it above 77 yen , while the Australian dollar gained broadly as retail sales and capital spending data beat expectations,

The Swiss franc held on to gains scored the previous day after a top government official said Switzerland would have to live with a strong currency, to stand at 0.8065 francs per dollar .

The euro last traded at $1.4373 , off a two-month high at $1.4550 hit at the start of the week on worries over how the fragmented currency bloc will deal with its debt crisis.

Brent crude rose to a one-month high above $115 after China's manufacturing rebounded, stoking expectations for growth in the world's largest energy consumer.

But the fall in China's export orders helped push LME copper down 0.7 percent. Spot gold was little changed at 1,8224.00 an ounce.

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blogs.reuters.com/hedgehub (Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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