* U.S. payrolls report next in focus, after upbeat jobless
* Australia shares get bank boost from Westpac result
* Japanese markets closed for holiday
By Ian Chua
SYDNEY, May 3 Asian shares rose on Friday after
an interest rate cut by the European Central Bank added to hopes
that more stimulus from yet another major central bank will help
shore up the global economic recovery.
ECB President Mario Draghi also said the ECB stood ready to
ease further if needed, dealing a blow to the euro currency as
investors looked elsewhere for better returns.
The euro traded at $1.3064, having skidded nearly 1
percent on Thursday. It also lost ground against the yen,
slipping to 128.00 and pulling further away 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.
India's central bank is also widely expected to cut interest
rates later in the day to help lift the economy from its lowest
growth in a decade.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.3 percent, with South Korean stocks
gaining 0.2 percent in early trade. Japanese financial
markets are shut for holidays and will reopen on Tuesday.
Australia's main share index climbed 0.7 percent
after Westpac became the latest major bank to handily
beat expectations with a 10 percent jump in profit
Westpac shares jumped about 2 percent, lifting its market
value to A$107 billion, which is more than Barclays and
Deutsche Bank combined.
Also underpinning market optimism, the number of Americans
filing new jobless benefits claims fell sharply last week to its
lowest level since the early days of the 2007-09 recession.
Markets are now keenly waiting for the U.S. non-farm payrolls
report due 1230 GMT.
Analysts at Barclays Capital said conditions for equity
markets are favourable, particularly given the mix of muted
inflation and soft growth, which means central banks can
maintain, or even add to, monetary stimulus.
"We remain constructive on developed market equities but are
more cautious on safe havens, given the extent of their recent
rallies," analysts Guillermo Felices and Sreekala Kochugovindan
wrote in a client note.
Commodities also saw a broad-based rebound with U.S. crude
at $93.88 per barrel, following a near 3-percent rally on
Copper also recouped a chunk of what it lost in the previous
session, although the top industrial metal remained below the
$7,000-a-tonne price critical to market bulls. It was last at
Further gains in commodities hinge on a report on China's
services sector due later in the day, particularly as recent
data have disappointed and raised fresh doubts about the
strength of the world's second biggest economy.