GLOBAL MARKETS-BOJ easing fuels Nikkei, JGBs; rest of Asia eyes Korea, US data

Thu Apr 4, 2013 2:02am EDT

* MSCI Asia ex-Japan down 0.7 pct, N.Korea steps up rhetoric

* Nikkei recoups losses to turn higher on bold BOJ easing

* Yen slips on BOJ moves

* JGB 10-year yield hits near-decade low, JGB futures record high

* Spot gold tumbles to 10-month lows as investors cover equities losses

* Bank of England, ECB seen standing pat

By Chikako Mogi

TOKYO, April 4 (Reuters) - Japanese stocks and government bonds rallied while the yen slipped more than 1 percent against the dollar and the euro after the Bank of Japan took strong easing steps on Thursday, but other Asian equities fell on worries over the U.S. economy.

European markets were likely to extend losses, with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX to open down as much as 0.3 percent.

U.S. stock futures were up 0.2 percent, pointing to a firm Wall Street open, a day after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index posted its biggest daily drop in over a month on weaker-than-expected U.S. private sector hiring in March, and as a services sector index missed forecasts.

Japan's Nikkei stock average recouped earlier losses and rose 1.4 percent after the BOJ announced a sweeping monetary expansion campaign that will include heavy investment in REITs and ETFs, boosting reflationary stocks such as real estate firms and banks.

Ten-year JGB futures rose to a record high and the 10-year yield dropped to 0.490 percent, its lowest since June 2003.

Elsewhere in Asia, however, the MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.8 percent as investors waited for Friday's nonfarm payrolls report for further clues on the outlook for U.S. growth.

Growing tensions on the Korean peninsula also soured sentiment. South Korean stocks .KS11> fell 1.3 percent, while the South Korean won slid against the U.S. dollar.

North Korea barred entry to a joint industrial complex it shares with the South for a second day on Thursday.

The United States said on Wednesday it would soon send a missile defense system to Guam to defend it from North Korea, as the U.S. military adjusts to what Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has called a "real and clear" danger from Pyongyang.

"Markets at this point look increasingly top-heavy, even if the downside still seems anchored by reasonable earnings outlook in the region," said Hirokazu Yuihama, a senior strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.

"Asian bourses are coming under pressure from growing uncertainty in Chinese property markets, worries about the euro zone and the U.S. economy. North Korea's seemingly hardening stance added to the already weakened sentiment, but as long as there is no actual military confrontation, the Korean factor may be temporary," Yuihama said.

BOJ EASING CHEERS MARKETS

The Bank of Japan decided on a radical overhaul of its policy framework on Thursday, shifting its target when setting monetary policy to base money from the current overnight call rate. The central bank said it will bring forward the timing of open-ended asset buying and extend the duration of government bonds it buys in its easing program.

The dollar soared more than 1 percent to above 94 yen and the euro also jumped over 1 percent to around 121 yen , while the dollar gained 0.3 percent against a basket of major currencies.

"The measures announced overall were bold, and more than what had been expected for," said Hiroshi Maeba, head of FX trading Japan for UBS in Tokyo, adding that the dollar's rise was partly due to the fact some players had trimmed yen short post ions before the meeting.

"All in all, the BOJ's steps today were enough to prompt those shorting the dollar to unwind their positions. Whether the dollar will rise further will depend on how overseas players respond to the BOJ's moves and on the U.S. nonfarm payrolls due on Friday."

Market expectations have been running high for Haruhiko Kuroda to announce bold measures at his inaugural policy meeting as BOJ governor.

The European Central Bank is expected to hold interest rates steady on Thursday but could provide a dovish outlook on interest rates, while the Bank of England is also unlikely to take fresh easing steps at its meeting later on Thursday.

Oil futures recovered from sharp losses the day before, with U.S. crude holding around $94.48 a barrel and Brent adding 0.3 percent to $107.40.

"There is no shortage of oil in the United States or anywhere else, this is very clear, and we can see that the economic recovery is also not as good as we thought it was," said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity sales manager at Newedge in Tokyo.

Steep losses in pan-Asian shares outside Japan sparked a sell-off in gold as investors covered the equities losses, pushing spot gold down 1 percent at one point to a 10-month low of $1,541.14 an ounce.

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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