GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares ride U.S. optimism but EM concerns remain

Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:00am EST

* Strong U.S. manufacturing survey bolsters Wall St, supports Asian shares

* Soft China survey could be a drag on emerging market shares

* Dollar rebounds from 8-week low

* European shares seen rising about 0.3 percent

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Feb 21 (Reuters) - A survey showing brisk U.S. manufacturing activity gave Asian stock markets a lift on Friday and bolstered the dollar, though underlying concerns about China's economic growth could keep investors from rushing to buy some emerging market assets.

Japan's Nikkei share average led the way, climbing 2.9 percent while Australian shares tacked on 0.4 percent to edge near a five-year peak hit in October.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan advanced 0.6 percent.

European shares were also expected to rise, with both Britain's FTSE and France's CAC seen up as much as 0.3 percent.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent, cheered by Markit's preliminary U.S. Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index accelerating to its best level in four years.

S&P futures in Asia pointed to further modest gains.

"The market thinks for now that underlying U.S. economic trend remains strong and things will get better in the spring, when it gets warmer," said Sho Aoyama, senior market economist at Mizuho Securities.

Indeed, another manufacturing data by Philadelphia Fed's showing a surprise contraction did little to change the view that extremely cold weather and massive snowstorms are to blame for softness in recent U.S. data.

On the other hand, Thursday's survey painting a grim picture of China's manufacturing sector cast shadows over emerging markets, many of which were roiled by sharp selloffs last month.

Mexican shares hit a three-month low while the rouble hit five-year low, with the latter under pressure from unrest in Ukraine.

The Chinese yuan fell to 11-week lows as the central bank was seen pushing the yuan weaker in a likely prelude to widening its trading band and as emerging market currencies weaken.

The yuan has fallen almost 0.4 percent to 6.0891 yuan to the dollar this week, which should be its largest weekly fall since June 2012.

The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield edged up to 2.76 percent , extending its rise from three-month low of 2.57 percent hit on Feb 3, following the positive data and ahead of the government's debt sales next week.

The U.S. dollar also recovered thanks to the strong U.S. manufacturing survey, with the dollar's index against a basket of currencies rising to 80.30 from a eight-week low of 79.927 hit on Wednesday.

That saw the euro slipping to $1.3718, from a seven-week high of $1.37735 hit on Wednesday, with a dip in the euro zone's business surveys adding pressure on the single currency.

Against the yen, the dollar rose to 102.56 yen, near this week's high of 102.745 yen.

U.S. crude oil inched down from a four-month high touched on Wednesday on a smaller-than-expected fall in U.S. heating oil stockpiles as well as the soft Chinese manufacturing survey.

Further tension in emerging economies could direct investors' attention to the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Sydney this weekend.

Some developing countries have criticised the U.S. Federal Reserve for not paying enough attention to the impact on emerging markets when the U.S. central bank reduces its stimulus.

As investors expect the Fed to gradually reduce its stimulus, many emerging markets that have relied on foreign capital and benefited from cheap dollar funding came under attack from speculators last month.

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

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