* MSCI Asia ex-Japan rises 0.3 pct, Nikkei jumps to 52-month
* Yen hits near 3-year low vs dollar, euro on prospect of
BOJ's next head
* Oil, copper, platinum underpinned by demand outlook
* European shares seen up slightly
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, Feb 6 Nascent global economic recovery
buoyed risk assets from Asian shares to industrial commodities
on Wednesday, while the prospect of a dovish new governor for
the Bank of Japan sent the yen to a three-year low.
The signs of a recovery taking hold in Europe, the United
States and China have helped improve the demand outlook for oil,
copper and platinum while a solid reading for euro zone business
activity supported the euro.
The slide in the yen bolstered Japanese equities to their
highest since October 2008 while expectations of more monetary
easing pushed two-year Japanese government bond yields
down to a nine-year low of 0.045 percent.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan added 0.3 percent, tracking a more than 1
percent gain overnight in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index
and the Nasdaq Composite Index on data showing the U.S.
services sector extended a three-year expansion in January.
In Asia, investors have been quick to book profits as prices
approached their highs, but analysts and traders say any dip was
likely to be seen as a chance to buy back into the market.
The pan-Asian index scaled a 18-month high on Monday, and
was up about 2.3 percent so far this year, still modest compared
to the S&P's nearly 6 percent gain in the same period.
Australian shares rose 0.8 percent, leading regional
"Investors are positioning themselves for further upside
moves while global economic data provides cause for optimism,"
said Tim Waterer, senior trader at CMC Markets.
Brent crude futures were up 0.1 percent to $116.64 a
barrel, while U.S. crude was steady at $96.65, hovering
near a 20-week high.
London copper rose 0.3 percent to $8,291.25 a tonne
after nearing a four-month high of $8,322, while platinum
hit a four-month high of $1,714.75 an ounce.
European markets are seen inching higher, with financial
spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's
CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX would open flat to
up 0.1 percent. A 0.1 percent gain in U.S. stock futures
suggested a firm open on Wall Street.
YEN TAKES CENTRE STAGE
Expectations for stronger reflationary policies from the
Band of Japan intensified after BOJ Governor Masaaki Shirakawa
said he would step down on March 19, three weeks earlier than
the official end of his five-year term, leaving at the same time
as his two deputies. His decision raised the prospect that the
next BOJ governor will more readily adopt the expansionist
monetary policy demanded by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The dollar touched 94.075 yen to its highest since
May 2010, while the euro also rose to 127.71 yen, its
strongest since April 2010. The Aussie reached a 4-1/2 year peak
around 97.42 yen. The pound touched a 3-year high
near 147.25 yen.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock average soared 3.8
percent to close at a 52-month high.
"The momentum in Japan is continuing to favour yen weakening
and a risk-on mood," said Stefan Worrall, director of cash
equity sales at Credit Suisse in Tokyo.
Despite recent rallies, the Nikkei remains below levels
before the 2008 financial crisis while the S&P 500 and Germany's
benchmark stock index have both already exceeded that level.
EURO ALSO RESILIENT
The euro was steady around $1.3570, above a key
technical support of its 14-day moving average at $1.34653.
The euro drew support from growing confidence in the
region's economy and improving funding conditions for
deeply-indebted euro zone members.
News the European Central Bank's balance sheet fell to an
11-month low of 2.8 trillion euros ($3.8 trillion) as markets
unwound some of the ECB's crisis funding measures underpinned
the euro, appearing in stark contrast to the U.S. Federal
Reserve and the BOJ which keep expanding asset buying.
"Flows matter more than stock in currency markets when
comparing central bank balance sheets ... highlighting the
euro's outperformance over the last few months," said Ashraf
Laidi, chief global strategist at City Index, in a note to
The ECB is expected to keep interest rates unchanged at its
policy meeting on Thursday, but its president may face a
grilling over an Italian banking scandal.
Spanish and Italian yields fell on Tuesday after jumping on
worries over a corruption scandal in Spain and polls showing
Italy's former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi regaining ground
before elections this month.
The yen's fall lifted benchmark Tokyo gold futures
to a record high of 5,067 yen per gram on Wednesday.