* 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 Sharemarkets across Asia mostly
rose on Friday after an interest rate cut from the European
Central Bank and prospects for more easing lifted hopes that
fresh stimulus from yet another major central bank will help
foster a stronger global recovery.
Trading, however, was subdued with Japanese financial
markets closed for holidays and ahead of the closely-watched
U.S. non-farm payrolls report due later in the
ECB President Mario Draghi 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, which skidded nearly 1 percent on Thursday, last
traded at $1.3076, 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.
"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.
India's central bank is also widely expected to cut interest
rates later in the day to help lift the economy from its slowest
growth in a decade.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.4 percent, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng
index 0.7 percent higher and Chinese stocks up
more about 2 percent.
Australia's main share index advanced 0.2 percent
after Westpac became the latest major bank to handily
beat expectations with a 10 percent jump in profit
Westpac shares jumped more than 2 percent at one stage,
lifting its market value to A$107 billion, which is more than
Barclays and Deutsche Bank combined. The
share price has since reversed gains.
Singapore's Straits Times index bucked the
generally positive trend, slipping 0.7 percent.
After a broad-based rebound on Thursday, commodity prices
were mixed with U.S. crude drifting 0.2 percent lower at
$93.82 per barrel. This followed a near 3-percent rally on
Copper, however, extended gains and was nearing the
$7,000-a-tonne price critical to market bulls. It rose 2.2
percent to 6,996.25, continuing to recoup a chunk of
what it lost earlier in the week.
Markets appear to have shrugged off data showing China's
services sector slowed in April, reinforcing views the recovery
in the world's second biggest economy remains modest.