GLOBAL MARKETS-ECB rate cut cheers stocks, euro subdued

Fri May 3, 2013 2:18am EDT

* Chinese shares outperform region, euro struggles

* RBI cuts rates but warns little room to ease further

* Japanese markets closed for holiday, U.S. payrolls next in focus

By Ian Chua

SYDNEY, May 3 (Reuters) - Asian shares rose on Friday on hopes of a stronger global economic recovery after the European Central Bank cut interest rates and held out the possibility of further easing while the euro remained in the doldrums.

Chinese shares outperformed their peers in the region after a report in state media spurred hopes of greater foreign involvement in mainland markets.

Trading for the rest of the region was subdued with Japan closed for holidays.

Investors were also reluctant to take aggressive positions in the leadup to a U.S. non-farm payrolls report later in the day. That caution is expected to see European stocks get off to a lacklustre start. U.S. stock index futures were flat as well.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent, on track to end the week up just over 1 percent.

"The ECB's action comes as a sign governments are determined to tackle the economic issues. This points to further stimulus measures and it is positive for sentiment," said Lee Jae-hun, a market analyst at Mirae Asset Securities.

Chinese stocks advanced about 2 percent, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index climbed 0.2 percent.

The official Shanghai Securities News reported on Friday that new technical regulations rolled out by the Chinese central bank late on Thursday suggest that renminbi qualified foreign institutional investors (RQFII) quota approvals may be resumed after a two-month suspension.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index edged up 0.1 percent after earlier gaining more than 1 percent as a rally in bank shares cooled.

Bucking the region's positive trend, Indian stocks fell as the Reserve Bank of India warned there is little room to ease further after delivering an expected quarter point cut. The country's main share index shed 0.2 percent.

In contrast, the ECB on Thursday cut its main benchmark interest rate by a quarter point to a record 0.5 percent and ECB President Mario Draghi said the bank was ready to ease further if needed.

EURO UNDER PRESSURE

That dealt a blow to the euro as investors looked elsewhere for better returns. The common currency, which skidded nearly 1 percent on Thursday, struggled at $1.3070, little changed on the day.

Against the yen, it hovered just above 128.00, having retreated from a 3-year peak around 131.10 set last month.

The ECB's decision came a day after the Federal Reserve recommitted to its aggressive stimulus programme and a month after the Bank of Japan stunned markets by promising to inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy to spur growth.

Commodity prices were mixed after a broad-based rebound on Thursday, with U.S. crude drifting 0.3 percent lower to $93.70 per barrel. This followed a 3-percent rally on Thursday.

Copper, however, extended gains and popped back above the $7,000-a-tonne price critical to market bulls. It rose 2.4 percent to $7,015.00, continuing to recoup a chunk of what it lost earlier in the week.

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