GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares push higher, shrug off global tension

Tue Jul 22, 2014 2:14am EDT

* Spreadbetter sees European bourses opening higher

* MSCI Asia touches 3-year peak, Nikkei rises after Japan holiday

* U.S. stock futures edge higher, underpinned by upbeat earnings

* Slumping U.S. Treasury yields still hold back dollar

By Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO, July 22 (Reuters) - Asian stocks touched a three-year peak on Tuesday, despite lingering concerns about crises in Ukraine and Gaza, while the yen eased against the dollar and the euro.

Financial spreadbetter Capital Spreads expected Britain's FTSE 100 to open 23 points higher, Germany's DAX to open 29 points higher and France's CAC 40 to open 14 points higher, or all up 0.3 percent.

"It certainly seems the battle between geopolitical risk and U.S. earnings is in play at the moment and we'll continue to see a tug of war in the near term," IG Market strategist Stan Shamu said in a note to clients.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose about 0.7 percent to its highest since 2011, while Hong Kong's benchmark index reached its highest level in more than seven months as recent fund inflows pushed up the territory's blue-chip stocks.

Japan's Nikkei stock average ended up 0.8 percent after a national holiday closed markets on Monday.

"Investor sentiment has settled as the VIX has stayed calm," said Akio Yoshino, chief economist at equity research and strategy department at Amundi Japan.

The CBOE Volatility Index, which is a gauge of market risk aversion, jumped 32.2 percent on Friday in Asia, the biggest percentage rise since April 2013.

U.S. shares slumped overnight, as the rising global tension offset some upbeat U.S. earnings. So far this reporting period, 66 percent of S&P 500 companies have topped Wall Street's profit expectations, according to Thomson Reuters data, above the 63 percent average since 1994.

But the three major U.S. indexes ended well off their lows, a sign that some appetite for riskier assets remained, and S&P 500 E-Mini futures edged higher in Asian trade.

The leader of a Russian-backed separatist group agreed to hand over the bodies of the victims from last week's downing of a Malaysia Airlines passenger jet over Ukraine, as well as the plane's two black boxes.

European Union foreign ministers were scheduled on Tuesday to discuss further penalties against Russia, but the most they are expected to do is to hasten sanctions against individuals, and possibly companies, agreed in principle last week before the plane was brought down.

In the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian death toll jumped to more than 500 and Israeli losses mounted as the United States stepped up efforts to secure a ceasefire.

YIELDS

The yen edged down as investors' appetite for risk slowly returned, but lower U.S. Treasury yields continued to limit the greenback's gains after safety-seeking investors piled into U.S. government debt in recent days.

The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note stood at 2.474 percent in Asia, not far from its U.S. close of 2.475 percent.

The yield on the 30-year Treasury bond inched down to 3.262 percent from its U.S. close of 3.264 percent on Monday, when it fell as low as 3.249 percent, the lowest since June 2013.

Investors also awaited U.S. consumer prices data due at 1230 GMT for clues to the timing of monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve.

The Labor Department is expected to report that U.S. inflation eased slightly to 0.3 percent in June, after rising food prices pushed the index to its biggest increase in more than a year in May.

The dollar edged about 0.1 percent higher on the day against its Japanese counterpart, to 101.53 yen, while the euro stood at 137.30 yen, up about 0.1 percent and pulling away from last Friday's five-month trough of 136.71 yen.

The euro was largely steady at $1.3524, holding above a five-month low of $1.3491 touched on Friday.

In commodities, U.S. oil for August delivery rose about 0.4 percent to $104.96 a barrel after earlier topping $105, as traders covered positions ahead of the contract's expiry later on Tuesday. Brent crude for September delivery added 0.2 percent to $107.88.

Spot gold shed about 0.2 percent to $1,308.16 an ounce. (Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa and Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by Shri Navaratnam & Kim Coghill)

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