* Wall St lifted by dovish Yellen, upbeat Fed Beige Book
* Asia shares mostly higher, moves modest
* Google and IBM fall after hours as earnings disappoint
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, April 17 Asian share markets eked out
gains on Thursday as dovish comments from the head of the U.S.
Federal Reserve combined with an upbeat economic assessment from
the central bank to lift Wall Street for a third straight
However, disappointing results from Google and IBM knocked
their shares lower after the bell and could crimp technology
stocks in the region.
Indeed, the tech and telecoms sectors in Japan's Nikkei
were in the red on Thursday, nudging the overall index
down 0.2 percent following a 3 percent jump the previous
Other markets fared better with shares in Australia
up 0.5 percent and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares
outside Japan adding 0.33 percent.
The moves mirrored Wall Street, where both the Dow
and S&P 500 gained about 1 percent, while the Nasdaq
bounced by 1.29 percent.
Yet not all was well. Google Inc lost
around 4 percent after hours as first-quarter revenue fell short
of Wall Street targets and margins narrowed as the price of its
ads continued to decline.
IBM Corp suffered after reporting its lowest
quarterly revenue in five years as the company struggles with
falling demand for its storage and server products. Total
revenue fell 4 percent to $22.5 billion in the first quarter,
below average estimate of $22.91 billion.
Shares of the world's largest technology services company
fell about 4 percent to $188.20 in after-hours trade.
LOW INFLATION MEANS LOW RATES
Fed Chair Janet Yellen told the Economic Club of New York
that it might take two years to return to full employment and
there was more risk of inflation staying too low, than going too
Yellen said achieving the Fed's economic goals "will likely
require low real interest rates for some time," a policy view
she said was shared broadly across many advanced economies.
"We read this as a not-so-subtle signal that, although the
committee has gradually begun to remove its outright commitment
to low rates and balance sheet expansion, the Fed is in no hurry
to accelerate the trend or initiate a rate hike cycle," said
Michael Gapen, and economist at Barclays.
The prospect of low rates for longer helped pull down
long-term borrowing costs. Yields on Treasury 30-year bonds
dipped to 3.44 percent and near lows not seen since
July last year.
But that in turn weighed on the dollar which eased back to
102.01 yen from an early high at 102.26. The euro was a
whisker firmer at $1.3835 but well within recent ranges.
Bonds in Europe continued their spectacular rally amid
speculation that persistently low inflation would force the
European Central Bank to launch further stimulus.
Yields on Spanish 10-year debt sank to their
lowest in over eight years at 3.06 percent, while Italian
10-year yields hit an all-time trough at 3.11
Economic news out of the United States was mixed with
industrial production beating forecasts but housing starts
Still, investors were cheered by the Fed's Beige Book of
anecdotal information on business activity which showed activity
picked up in recent weeks as a weather-related drag lifted.
Spot gold steadied at $1,300.85 an ounce having found
support in the $1,290/1,293 area after a technical selloff early
in the week.
Brent crude inched toward $110 a barrel on Wednesday on
mounting tensions in Ukraine. Ukrainian government forces and
separatist pro-Russian militia staged rival shows of force in
eastern Ukraine on the eve of crucial talks on the former Soviet
Brent crude for June added 2 cents to $109.62 a
barrel, near its highest level since March 3. U.S. crude
was up 33 cents at $104.09 a barrel, shrugging off a huge build
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)