* 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 (Reuters) - 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 percent.
“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)