* Asian stocks open up, Nikkei hits fresh 5-1/2 year high
* Japan's Q1 growth beats forecasts
* Euro nurses losses after dour economic data
By Ian Chua
SYDNEY, May 16 Asian shares got off to a
positive start on Thursday after data showed Japan's economy
accelerated in the first three months of the year, in contrast
to an enduring recession in the euro zone which was keeping the
euro in the doldrums.
Tokyo's Nikkei touched a fresh 5-1/2 year high,
before reversing direction to be down slightly on the day, while
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
advanced 0.2 percent.
Australian shares edged up 0.1 percent and South
Korean shares were 0.7 percent higher.
Japan's economy grew 0.9 percent in the first quarter,
speeding up from a 0.3 percent pace in the previous quarter and
beating expectations for a growth rate of 0.7 percent.
"This is undoubtedly very strong growth, and very positive
for Japan's economy," said Yoshiki Shinke, senior economist,
Dai-Ichi Life Research Institute in Tokyo.
"It's no longer just about brightening sentiment and rises
in equities prices. There's now proof that Abenomics is working
and that the economy is on a solid footing."
The report stood in stark contrast to the euro zone, which
showed the region contracting for a sixth straight quarter as
France slid into recession and Germany registered a mere 0.1
The euro zone data had raised expectations for more monetary
easing by the European Central Bank, prompting investors to sell
The euro fetched $1.2881, having fallen more than 0.4
percent to as far as $1.2843 on Wednesday. Against the yen, it
was at 131.68, off a three-year peak of 132.78 set
earlier in the week.
Commodity prices were little changed with Brent crude
holding on to gains at $103.60, while spot gold
eased to a fresh one-month low around $1,387 per ounce.