* Euro off two-week lows vs dollar, capped as rate cut eyed
* MSCI Asia ex-Japan likely track U.S. stocks higher
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, April 24 (Reuters) - Asian shares are set to track global equities higher on Wednesday, but the euro remained under pressure despite a modest recovery after soft German data underscored the still-fragile state of the euro zone economy.
After the bell on Wall Street, Apple shares rose 3.8 percent after the company reported better-than-expected second-quarter revenue of $43.6 billion, reflecting strong sales of the iPad and iPhone.
According to Westpack bank, 72.8 percent of the 147 Standard & Poor’s 500 companies reporting so far beat consensus on earnings.
“Equities were underpinned by positive reports on corporate earnings and U.S. housing, some indications of progress in the Italian political arena, and perceptions that economic weakness in Europe may promote a further easing of monetary policy by the European Central Bank,” Barclays Capital said in a research.
The euro was around $1.3000, managing to recover from Tuesday’s two-week low of $1.2973 hit after a survey showed Germany, the euro zone’s largest economy, saw business activity decline in April for the first time in five months. Traders saw it as strengthening the case for the European Central Bank to cut interest rates.
The upside for the single currency was limited given the potential for an ECB rate cut and lingering concerns about the growth outlook in the recession-hit euro-zone.
In Asia, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.3 percent on Tuesday after the preliminary or “flash” China HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index for April fell to 50.5 from 51.6 in March, as a contraction in new export orders pointed to fragile global demand.
The pan-Asian index was likely to be supported on Wednesday, with Australian shares seen opening higher.
Japan’s Nikkei stock average is also expected to open higher in response to the firmness in U.S. equities, as well as a pause in the yen’s firmness.
The dollar was down 0.1 percent at 99.41 yen, struggling to break above the key 100-yen mark due to weak U.S. economic reports, but traders say the upcoming Bank of Japan meeting on Friday may provide an opportunity to clear that symbolic level.
U.S. stocks rallied on Tuesday, recovering from sharp declines sparked by a “bogus” Associated Press tweet about explosions at the White House, shrugging off data showing U.S. manufacturing grew at its most sluggish pace in six months.
European shares posted their biggest one-day gain in seven months.
Earlier in the Asian session on Wednesday, New Zealand’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate at a record low 2.5 percent for the 17th straight review, reaffirming it expects to be on hold for the rest of the year as the economy picks up and inflation remains tame.
U.S. crude futures were up 0.3 percent at $89.44 a barrel early on Wednesday.