* Nikkei rises 2.4 pct, tops 10,000 for 1st time in 8 mths
* MSCI Asia ex-Japan up 0.4 pct to highest in nearly 17 mths
* European stock indexes seen opening up 0.2-0.3 pct
* Euro at multi-month highs vs dollar, yen
* Brent crude steady below $109 a barrel
By Alex Richardson
SINGAPORE, Dec 19 Asian shares and the euro rose
to multi-month highs on Wednesday as expectations of more
aggressive monetary stimulus from the Bank of Japan and signs of
progress in resolving the U.S. "fiscal cliff" budget crisis
lifted demand for riskier assets.
European shares were also expected to post gains. However,
index futures pointed to a flat opening on Wall Street after the
S&P 500 had its best two-day run in a month on growing
confidence a deal can be reached in Washington to avoid a raft
of painful spending cuts and tax rises.
"What is important, and what is driving the market higher,
is that the two parties are now in constructive discussions over
specific tax levels and spending programmes, and working towards
a common middle ground," said Cameron Peacock, a strategist at
IG Markets in Melbourne.
Industrial commodities such as oil and copper consolidated
earlier gains, while gold recovered some lost ground but
remained not far above its lowest in nearly four months as
progress in the U.S. budget talks limited its safe-haven appeal.
Financial spreadbetters called London's FTSE 100,
Frankfurt's DAX and France's CAC-40 indexes to
rise 0.2 percent to 0.3 percent.
Tokyo's Nikkei share average closed up 2.4 percent,
topping 10,000 points for the first time since April, as the
prospect of more monetary stimulus and a cheaper yen boosted
financials stocks and shares of exporters.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan
gained 0.4 percent, touching its highest level
in nearly 17 months, while Australian shares and Hong
Kong's Hang Seng also reached 17-month highs.
S&P 500 index futures were flat.
MORE JAPAN EASING EXPECTED
The Bank of Japan started a two-day meeting on Wednesday,
under intense political pressure to expand its asset-buying
programme aggressively to snap the world's third-biggest economy
out of its fourth recession since 2000.
Shinzo Abe, who was elected on Sunday as the country's next
prime minister, called for the central bank to embark on
"unlimited easing" and set an inflation target of 2 percent to
"The market is already in overbought territory, but
investors are increasingly being alarmed that there is a risk of
not having Japanese stocks in their portfolios," said Hiroichi
Nishi, general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities.
The euro rose as far as $1.3256 on electronic trading
platform EBS, its highest since the beginning of May, and
against the yen it reached 111.73, its highest since
late August 2011.
"Unless U.S. fiscal cliff talks take an unexpected turn for
the worse, we believe that EUR/USD will meet our 1.3300 year-end
target," analysts at BNP Paribas wrote in a note.
Oil held steady, with Brent crude rising about 10
cents to just short of $109 a barrel and U.S. crude little
changed below $88.
"There has been some progress in talks and it seems
commodity markets have been supported by that, as well as a
combination of the recent improvement in manufacturing data in
China and the United States," said commodity analyst Stefan
Graber of Credit Suisse in Singapore.
Copper was also flat just above $8,020 a tonne.
Copper rallied almost 8 percent from mid-November to hit a
two-month high a week ago, but has since lost some ground.
Gold rose 0.3 percent to around $1,675 an ounce,
after falling to $1,661.01 on Tuesday, its lowest since August.