* MSCI Asia ex-Japan at 9-month peak, Nikkei at 7-month high
* Month-end demand pushes dollar, euro higher vs yen
* Euro firms as euro zone borrowing costs ease
* India Q3 GDP slightly below forecast, China data eyed
* European shares likely slip
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, Nov 30 Asian shares hit a nine-month peak
on Friday, as firmer overnight global equities created an upbeat
tone, but flows were largely driven by month- and year-end
position-squaring, with investors taking profits on the rises
and buying on dips.
European shares will likely pause, with financial
spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's
CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX will open down as
much as 0.3 percent. A 0.2 percent drop in U.S. stock futures
also hinted at a weaker Wall Street open.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.6 percent to its highest since March 1,
and was on course for a monthly gain of 2.1 percent.
"It just seems like one of those risk-on days where
investors just pile onto stocks that they think will give them
the most value," said Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG
Australian shares added 0.6 percent to a fresh
three-week high, aided by shares in mining and banks on firmer
metals prices and a higher finish on Wall Street.
Shanghai shares were up 0.9 percent and set for
their first gain this week after slumping to their lowest in
nearly four years earlier in the week, while Hong Kong
shares rose 0.7 percent. Indian shares moved up 0.8
percent to their highest in 19 months.
Amid unclear prospects for the U.S. budget talks and the
apparently abating risk of an imminent Greece bankruptcy,
investors sought trade incentives from data out of Asian
countries on Friday and Saturday that could offer signals for
the likely direction of global economic growth.
India's economy grew at a lower-than-expected annual 5.3
percent in the quarter ending in September, against analysts'
forecast of 5.4 percent. Asia's third largest economy is still
growing faster than many other major economies, but it has
slowed from 6.5 percent in the 2011/12 fiscal year.
The data followed mixed reports from Japan, the world's
third-largest economy, earlier in the day.
Japanese industrial output unexpectedly rose 1.8 percent in
October, the first increase in four months, suggesting the
negative impact of the global slowdown and a diplomatic row with
China may have run its course.
But Japanese manufacturing activity contracted in November
at the fastest pace in 19 months, according to a survey
indicating it was hurt by falling exports, weak domestic demand
and declining capital expenditure.
In South Korea, another big export-reliant economy,
industrial output grew for a second month in a row in October,
backing expectations for a recovery in the current quarter.
On Saturday, China will release the official manufacturing
PMI for November, which is likely to show factory activity
expanding at its fastest pace in seven months.
Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.5 percent to a
seven-month closing high, posting its best month since February
with a 5.8 percent gain.
Flows related to end-month demand drove the euro and the
dollar higher against the yen. The dollar rose 0.3 percent to
82.36 yen, moving towards the 7-1/2-month high of 82.84
yen hit last week, while the euro jumped 0.6 percent to 107.12
yen, after hitting a seven-month high of 107.29
"The market is subject to mood swings by investors who pay
close attention to small developments in the U.S. budget talks,
but as long as the yen does not rise far from current levels, we
may see a slow but steady rise in the market," said Takuya
Takahashi, an analyst at Daiwa Securities.
Financial markets swung around on Thursday after comments by
U.S. legislators dampened optimism that an agreement would be
reached to avoid a series of tax hikes and spending cuts which
could put the world's biggest economy back into recession.
The Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, John
Boehner, indicated no substantive progress over the last two
weeks in talks to reach a budget deal, less than 24 hours after
he said he was "optimistic" about reaching a pact.
Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid struck back,
saying later his party was still waiting for a reasonable
proposal from the Republicans.
"We are trading day-to-day based on the running drama over
the fiscal cliff, and the market doesn't look very optimistic at
the moment," said Carl Larry, a derivatives broker with Atlas
Commodities in Houston.
London copper rose 0.3 percent to $7,924 a tonne and
spot gold inched up 0.3 percent to $1,730.36 an ounce,
but prices were on track for their biggest weekly drop since the
start of November with the U.S. fiscal talks hurting sentiment.
Oil fell, with U.S. crude futures down 0.3 percent to
$87.81 a barrel and Brent easing 0.1 percent to $110.67.
The euro was up 0.2 percent to $1.3004, below $1.3015
on Thursday, its highest level since Oct. 31.
The euro has been supported after global lenders earlier in
the week agreed to unblock more aid to debt-stricken Greece,
pushing down Italy's 10-year bond yield to its lowest in two
years at an auction on Thursday.
Reflecting a general caution despite rising equities, Asian
credit markets were lacklustre, keeping the spreads on the
iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index little