GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares rise, growth worries weigh

Tue Oct 9, 2012 1:24am EDT

* MSCI Asia ex-Japan rises 0.5 pct, Nikkei drops 0.9 pct

* Euro, Aussie steady off lows

* IMF cuts global growth forecast, warns U.S., Europe policymakers

* Oil jumps on supply concerns as Middle East tension mounts

* European shares rise

By Chikako Mogi

TOKYO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Asian shares rose on Tuesday but gains were moderated by concerns over global growth prospects, especially in the world's second-biggest economy China, and expected weak U.S. corporate earnings.

The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.5 percent, pulled higher by Hong Kong and China shares which rose 1.1 percent and 2 percent , respectively, on hopes of more steps to support the market from Beijing.

European shares are expected to gain as well, with a 0.2 percent rise in U.S. stock futures suggesting a solid start on Wall Street. Financial spreadbetters expected London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX to open as much as 0.5 percent higher.

"Asian equities markets are feeling the positive effects from the recent global easing, prompting investors to buy the region's stocks which have remained undervalued," said Hirokazu Yuihama, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

"Weak third-quarter corporate earnings, as well as a slowdown in the Chinese growth rate to below or around 8 percent have already been noted in various reports - reasons why further monetary easing took place. But the outlook for sluggish fundamentals will likely limit the markets' upside."

Australian shares rose 0.6 percent to a fresh 14-month high, as a jump in iron ore prices lifted miners and helped offset concerns about global economic growth.

The International Monetary Fund cut its global growth forecast on Tuesday to a 3.3 percent expansion for 2012, down from its July estimate of 3.5 percent, making it the slowest year of growth since 2009. It warned U.S. and European policymakers that failure to fix their economic ills would prolong the slump.

The IMF's World Economic Outlook preceded its twice-yearly meeting scheduled in Tokyo later this week, and followed a similarly grim report from the World Bank, which on Monday cut forecasts for the East Asia and Pacific region.

"A lot of investors are underweight China in their portfolios so any talk on QFII is likely to encourage them to start getting involved again," said Tom Kaan, a director at Louis Capital Markets in Hong Kong, referring to quotas for offshore investors to directly access China's domestic markets.

Tokyo's Nikkei stock average bucked the trend with a 0.9 percent slide on concerns about earnings. The Japanese corporate earnings season begins later in the month while the U.S. third-quarter corporate earnings reporting season starts on Tuesday.

Oil prices jumped, with U.S. crude oil futures rising $1 to $90.33 while Brent climbed towards $113.

"Right now the market is concerned about the continuing conflict between Syria and Turkey, and the worry is that if it escalates, it may disrupt Brent supplies," said Ker Chung Yang, senior investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.

London copper rose 0.6 percent to $8,230 a tonne.

EURO, AUSSIE LIFTED

A recovery in equities pulled riskier currencies higher.

The euro inched up 0.1 percent to $1.2985 and the risk-sensitive and commodity-related Australian dollar gained 0.4 percent to $1.0224, off Monday's three-month low of $1.0149.

Uncertainty over whether Spain will request external aid to help streamline its huge public debt remained after euro zone finance ministers met on Monday to discuss issues related to the region's debt crisis, including what needs to be done to establish a single supervisory authority for euro zone banks.

The finance ministers launched their permanent 500 billion euro bailout fund on Monday but said Spain, the country widely expected to be first to draw on it, was taking steps to overhaul its economy and did not need a bailout for now.

"Markets look as if they are tiring of the current stand off between Spain and Europe on the details of bailouts etc ... This may start to drag more on equity/commodity markets in the sessions ahead," Westpac Institutional Bank said in a research note. The European Central Bank's new programme to buy bonds of struggling euro zone states, aimed at reducing their borrowing costs, is conditional on the countries asking for help.

Greece, which was the focus of market jitters before Spain, said international lenders are considering giving the country two more years to reach its budget deficit reduction targets, and the extra time could be financed without more money from the euro zone.

Investors have preferred buying higher-yielding credit products with growth prospects than equities, and may eye the Philippines, Asia's largest issuer of sovereign debt in the global market, which is set to return this month with a $1 billion global peso note offer.

Asian credit markets steadied, with the spread on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index marginally wider by 1 basis point.

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