* MSCI Asia ex-Japan up 0.6 pct at 18-month high
* Nikkei hits fresh 33-month highs
* Yen hovers near lows broadly
* U.S. 10-year yields hit 9-mth peak, 10-yr JGB yield
touches 3-week high
* European shares likely inch up
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, Feb 4 Asian shares climbed to 18-month
highs on Monday after U.S. data showed some promise of a
credible recovery but not strong enough to threaten the Federal
Reserve's easing plans, while momentum also gained on firmer
manufacturing data from Europe and China.
The yen took a break from heavy selling against the U.S.
dollar and the euro, but fell to its lowest since August 2008
against the Australian and New Zealand dollars early on Monday
on confidence of bold monetary support from the Bank of Japan to
overcome the country's stubborn deflation.
More confidence in global economic recovery underpinned oil
and copper prices while weighing on safe-haven assets, pushing
10-year U.S. Treasury yields to a nine-month high and 10-year
Japanese government bond yields to a three-week high.
European markets are likely to inch higher, with financial
spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's
CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX would open up by
around 0.1 percent. U.S. stock futures were little
changed, pointing to a steady open on Wall Street.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan rose 0.6 percent.
"Prices of risk assets are generally expected to face upward
pressures," said Naohiro Niimura, a partner at research and
consulting firm Market Risk Advisory. "While risk appetite is
returning, prices may become top-heavy for some commodities
markets where the relative strength index suggests an overbought
territory under the current economic environment."
Brent crude eased 0.2 percent to $116.48 a barrel
but held above $116, near a more than four-month high, as data
from top consumers United States and China reinforced a view
that the global economy was headed for a modest uptick this
"We are now seeing a consistent story of moderate growth in
the U.S. and China, which is supportive of oil prices in
general," said Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets
in Sydney. "This will probably be a week of consolidation."
U.S. data out on Friday showed payrolls rose modestly last
month, with upward revisions for November and December, while
the Institute for Supply Management said its index of national
factory activity rose to its highest since April.
China followed with positive news over the weekend, saying
growth in its official purchasing managers' index (PMI) for the
non-manufacturing sector ticked up in January for the fourth
straight monthly rise, confirming the world's second-largest
economy was showing a modest recovery.
Australian shares, however, lost their grip on early
gains to end 0.3 percent lower, pulled down by
weaker-than-expected housing data, slow job advertising and
technical resistance. They jumped 0.9 percent to a 21-month high
NIKKEI MAY BE PEAKING
Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock average rose 0.6
percent after climbing to a fresh 33-month high earlier as the
yen declined. The index climbed for a fifth straight day.
Nikkei has been moving in tandem with the yen's
two-month-long losing streak with investors eyeing the change in
the BOJ's top personnel in April for clues to the likely extent
of the bank's reflationary measures.
"The Nikkei may be nearing its peak for now as we may get a
specific name of the most likely candidate for the next BOJ
governor soon. That may provide an opportunity to close long
dollar/yen positions, while a firming yen will then likely spur
investors to book profits on Japanese stocks," said Tetsuro Ii,
the chief executive of Commons Asset Management.
The dollar eased 0.2 percent to 92.64 yen after
scaling its highest since May 2010 of 92.97 on Friday, while the
euro fell 0.3 percent to 126.26 yen, still near its
loftiest since April 2010 of 126.97 touched on
In early Monday trade, the yen plunged to its lowest since
August 2008 against both the Australian dollar, at 96.78 yen
, and against the New Zealand dollar at 78.74 yen
The euro inched down 0.1 percent to $1.3628, off
Friday's 14-1/2-month peak of $1.3711 hit after data showed euro
zone factories had their best month in January in nearly a year.
On Friday, the dollar index measured against a basket of key
currencies fell to a 4-1/2-month low of 78.918. The index
was up 0.2 percent on Monday.
As economic optimism rose and concerns about the euro zone's
debt difficulties eased, investors took on more risk.
Research provider TrimTabs Investment Research said on
Saturday investors poured a record $77.4 billion in new cash
into stock mutual funds and exchange-traded funds in January,
surpassing the previous monthly record of $53.7 billion in
With the rise in equities on recovering appetite for riskier
assets, safe-haven appeal waned, pushing up yields of U.S.
Treasury bonds. The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield hit
a nine-month high of 2.052 percent in Asia on Monday.
A weekly gauge of sentiment in the Japanese government bond
market deteriorated sharply, remaining in negative territory for
a fifth straight week as rising global appetite for risk sapped
demand for bonds, the latest Reuters poll showed on Monday.