* Asian shares recoup earlier losses but lack energy
* Spreadbetters see European shares edging down at open
* Bonds supported globally by ECB expectations, BoE report
By Lisa Twaronite and Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO, May 15 Asian shares recouped early losses
on Thursday but held below the previous session's one-month
highs, while expectations of credit easing by the European
Central Bank knocked yields on U.S. and European bonds.
Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100
to open 6 to 8 points lower, or down 0.1 percent; Germany's DAX
to open 25 to 29 points lower, or down 0.3 percent; and
France's CAC 40 to open 8 to 9 points lower, or down 0.2
U.S. stock futures were little changed.
"European indices are set to ease on the open as traders
worry that yesterday's practically flat finishes have marked the
apex of the up move," Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at London
Capital Group, said in a note to clients.
Investors were awaiting first-quarter economic growth
figures for euro zone countries, including Germany, France and
Italy, as well as inflation data for the region.
German economic growth doubled to 0.8 percent
quarter-on-quarter in the first three months of 2014, thanks to
domestic demand and mild weather, data showed.
France's economy stalled, however, amid weak consumer
spending and business investment.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
was up 0.1 percent but did not retest the
previous session's one-month high. Shares struggled to rise
after Wall Street retreated overnight from record highs marked
the day before.
Japan's Nikkei fell 0.8 percent as a stronger yen
hurt sentiment, despite stronger than expected first-quarter
Expectations of monetary easing by the ECB, meanwhile, drove
bond prices up and yields down.
Reuters on Wednesday quoted sources as saying the central
bank is preparing a package of policy options for its June
meeting, including cuts in all its interest rates, and targeted
measures aimed at boosting lending to small and mid-sized firms.
The yield on benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasuries fell to
six-month low of 2.525 percent, breaking out of a long-held
range, and last stood at 2.553 percent.
The yield on 10-year German Bunds fell to a one-year low of
1.369 percent while Italian 10-year debt yielded a
record low of 2.901 percent.
British government bond yields dropped to a six-month low of
2.578 percent when the Bank of England offered a
surprisingly dovish monetary policy outlook, even though the BoE
was seen as likely to be one of the earliest major central
banks to raise interest rates sooner rather than later.
The BoE pushed back against expectations it might raise
interest rates in less than a year's time, leaving largely
unchanged its assumptions on the timing of interest rate rises
even as it acknowledged a strong recovery in the labour market.
"Their comments are extremely similar to what the Fed has
said. Yes, the jobless rate is falling faster but wages are not
rising much," said Tohru Yamamoto, chief fixed-income strategist
at Daiwa Securities.
Small wage rises mean low inflationary pressure, allowing
central banks to maintain extremely easy monetary policy.
"So you can say that markets are now starting to expect a
new normal, where wages do not rise much (in developed
countries). If even the BoE won't raise rates, the Fed probably
won't either," Yamamoto added.
In the currency market, sterling, which had been rallying so
far this year on BoE expectations, fell to a one-month low of
$1.6753 and was last steady on the day at $1.6768.
The euro was also nearly flat at $1.3715, not far
from Tuesday's one-month low of $1.36885, after tumbling 2
percent from a 2 1/2-year high just under $1.40 on ECB chief
Mario Draghi's signals last week that he stands ready to ease
policy next month.
Against the yen, the dollar retook some lost ground late in
the Asian session and was up about 0.1 percent at 101.95 yen
, after earlier falling as low as 101.66 yen on Japanese
The yen initially gained after the figures showed Japan's
economy grew at its quickest pace in over two years in the first
quarter, boosted by last-minute buying ahead of sales tax hike
in April and a jump in business investment.
"Strong economic indicators tend to be associated with
expectations of Bank of Japan foregoing further easing, so there
may have been a knee-jerk reaction," said Kyosuke Suzuki,
director of forex at Societe Generale in Tokyo.
The yen's gains hurt Japanese shares, leading the Nikkei
share average to close down 0.8 percent.
Later in the day, U.S. CPI and industrial output figures are
In commodities trading, U.S. crude was down about
0.3 percent at $102.02 a barrel but were close to three-week
highs hit overnight on the back of a draw on crude stocks at the
Cushing, Oklahoma contract delivery point.
Spot gold was little changed at $1,305.50, not far
from a 1-week high, after gaining nearly 1 percent overnight.
(Additional reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; Editing by
Shri Navaratnam & Kim Coghill)