* Risk appetite up after S&P 500 marks new record high
* Spreadbetters see Europe opening flat to tad higher
* Gold hits 3-1/2 mth low as safe-haven appeal dims
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, May 28 Strong economic data in the United
States shored up Asian stocks to one-year highs on Wednesday,
with another record close for the S&P 500 underpinning risk
appetite and sending safe-haven gold to 3-1/2 month lows.
Financial spreadbetters expected a flat to slightly higher
open for Europe, with Britain's FTSE seen unchanged,
Germany's DAX gaining as much as 0.14 percent to a
record high and France's CAC rising 0.1 percent.
Riskier asset markets sped up overnight after the United
States reported an unexpected rise in durable goods orders in
April and higher home prices for March. Services industries,
which dominate the economy, also grew at a rapid clip in May.
The sunny mood saw MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific
shares outside Japan scale a fresh one-year high
of 490.15 -- it was last up 0.6 percent. Tokyo's Nikkei
ticked up 0.4 percent, and South Korean shares rose 0.8
"The bullish U.S. indicators have set the positive tone for
investors, who are basically using this week to prepare for next
week's ECB meeting," said Cho Byung-hyun, analyst at Tong Yang
Securities in Seoul.
The upbeat sentiment eroded the safe-haven appeal of gold,
which extended sharp overnight losses and fell to a fresh 3-1/2
month low amid the strong U.S. economic data and a drop in
imports by top consumer China.
Spot gold slipped to a low of $1,260.74 an ounce, its
weakest since Feb. 7.
The recent run of largely upbeat U.S. data has helped
underpin global equities even as a slowdown in China still
remains a worry. China's yuan flirted with fresh 18-month lows
against the dollar as investors focused on a raft of negative
news from the property sector as further evidence of a spreading
slowdown in the economy.
The Federal Reserve's commitment to continue to support the
world's biggest economy and indications the European Central
Bank (ECB) will take easing steps to prop up sluggish growth in
the euro zone have also calmed nerves.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average
gained 0.42 percent, and the S&P 500 advanced 0.60
percent to 1,911.91, a new record.
The economic optimism steered the dollar index, which
measures the greenback's strength against a basket of key
currencies, to a high of 80.470 - a level last seen in early
April. It last traded at 80.35.
The dollar, which was also supported by a rise in U.S.
Treasury yields, fetched 101.93 yen, within striking
distance of a two-week high of 102.145 hit on Tuesday.
The euro remained on the defensive after comments from ECB
President Mario Draghi again highlighted the bank's discomfort
over persistently low inflation and suggested some kind of
policy action was likely at the June 5 meeting.
The euro was little changed at $1.3632, hovering near
a three-month low $1.3612 plumbed on Tuesday.
Brent crude rose 17 cents to $110.19 a barrel as the
upbeat U.S. data brightened demand prospects from the world's
largest economy, with geopolitical risk in Libya and Ukraine
providing additional support.
"There are quite a few bullish factors in the oil market
that are supportive, we have good economic indicators and
uncertainty over Libya and Ukraine," said Tetsu Emori, a
commodity fund manager at Astmax Investment.
"But the U.S. equity market is too strong. My worry is if we
see some profit-taking in equities, oil may fall as well."
Seasonally strong demand from top user China kept copper
well bid. Three-month copper at the London Metal
Exchange was at $6,924 a tonne after reaching a three-month peak
of $6,966 on Tuesday.
(Additional reporting by Jungmin Jang in Seoul and Manash
Goswami in Singapore; Editing by Shri Navaratnam)