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* Spreadbetters see flat to lower European open
* Bank of Japan maintains monetary policy as expected
* Nikkei skids 1.4 percent to 2-week closing low
* Rising Ukraine tension keeps risk appetite in check
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, April 8 Asian stocks shrugged off early
losses and rose on Tuesday, helped by Chinese shares rising
sharply on stimulus hopes, though Japanese equities slumped as
the yen clung to its gains after the Bank of Japan held policy
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
added about 0.4 percent. The Shanghai Composite
Index was up 1.8 percent.
Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100
to open 16 to 19 points lower, or down 0.3 percent; Germany's
DAX to open 7 to 10 points lower, or down 0.1 percent;
and France's CAC 40 to open unchanged.
"European equities are set to start flat as traders tread
cautiously," Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at London Capital Group
said in a note to clients.
"Whilst the mini tech-wreck in the U.S. has weighed on
global markets, European sensibilities hadn't allowed valuations
to reach such unfathomable levels so it's fair to assume that
traders don't see why there should be a wider sell off," he
Wall Street gloom initially cast a shadow over the Asian
session. On Monday, the Nasdaq Composite suffered its
worst three-session decline since November 2011 as Internet
stocks tumbled, while the S&P 500's three-day fall was
its steepest since late January.
Rising tensions in Ukraine also tempered investor appetite
for risk. Pro-Moscow protesters in eastern Ukraine seized arms
in one city and declared a separatist republic in another, moves
Kiev described on Monday as part of a Russian-orchestrated plan
to justify an invasion.
Japan's Nikkei stock average bucked the regional
trend and slumped 1.4 percent to its lowest close in two weeks.
The BOJ kept monetary policy steady on Tuesday and
maintained its view the economy is likely to continue recovering
moderately, signalling its confidence the country is making
steady progress toward meeting the bank's price target. But some
investors had hoped Japan's central bank would surprise with an
announcement of more purchases of more risk assets such as
exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
"I think the BOJ are hedging their view a little bit. There
is an element of increased caution," said Hiroshi Shiraishi,
senior economist at BNP Paribas Securities in Tokyo.
"We don't rule out the possibility of an increase in risk
asset purchases like ETFs, but we are quite sceptical about a
big increase in the monetary base target."
Data released shortly before Tokyo markets opened showed
some economic resilience, as Japan's current account balance
returned to a surplus in February for the first time in five
months on stronger exports to Asia and rising income from
Against the yen, the dollar fell about 0.2 percent to 102.87
yen, well off its 2-1/2 month high of 104.13 yen hit on
The euro also bumped lower against its Japanese counterpart,
down about 0.2 percent to 141.38 yen, though it held
above Monday's more than one-week low of 141.12 yen.
Against the dollar, the common currency was flat on the day
at $1.3744, having pushed off Friday's five-week nadir of
$1.3672 to Monday's high of $1.3748.
In commodity markets, gold was trading around
two-week highs, up about 0.9 percent from the previous session
at $1,308.90 an ounce.
U.S. crude for May gained about 0.6 percent to
$101.03 a barrel, pushed up by the renewed tensions over
Ukraine, a major supply route for Russian gas to Europe. But the
rise was capped by expectations of a U.S. crude oil stock
May Brent crude rose about 0.3 percent to $106.09 a
(Additional reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Eric Meijer)