* Asian shares supported as S&P 500 touches all-time peak
* US data point to Spring pick up, ahead of jobs report
* Pressure builds for ECB easing, analysts doubt move this
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, April 2 Asian share markets were looking
to extend their recent rally on Wednesday as investors chose to
accentuate the positive in a mixed bag of global economic data,
pressuring safe havens such as the yen and government bonds.
Even sluggishness in China is now considered favourably
since it adds to the case for stimulus, and there are signs
Beijing is hastening infrastructure spending in response.
In early action, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific
shares outside Japan crept up to a fresh
four-month high, while Australia's market added 0.2
Nikkei futures pointed to an opening rise of perhaps
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 ended Tuesday up 0.70
percent and just off a record intraday high. The Dow rose
0.46 percent, while the Nasdaq bounced 1.64 percent.
The FTSEurofirst 300 added 0.56 percent, helped by
merger activity and improving French factory data. MSCI's world
stocks gauge was up 0.6 percent.
The U.S. economic news was generally supportive of risk
appetite. The manufacturing ISM climbed to 53.7 in March, from
53.2, with production showing a marked expansion from
weather-induced weakness in February.
Likewise, new vehicles sales rose to a surprisingly brisk
16.4 million annualised in March, ending three months of
softness and supporting the view that demand is recovering now
that the worst of the winter weather has passed.
The arrival of Spring is also why the market is wagering the
U.S. payrolls report on Friday will show employment picked up to
200,000 in March.
The brighter tone in the data pressured the long-end of the
U.S. Treasury curve, where yields on 10- and 30-year paper rose
around 4 bass points.
Shorter-dated debt fared better in the wake of Federal
Reserve Chair Janet Yellen's comment that extraordinary stimulus
would be needed for some time to come.
WILL THEY, WON'T THEY?
Investors have also been speculating that the European
Central Bank would soon take further steps to loosen policy,
though officials are blowing hot and cold on the issue.
On Tuesday, ECB vice-president Vitor Constancio told a news
conference that low inflation was a concern and could drag on
economic growth. Euro zone inflation slowed to an annual 0.5
percent in March, its lowest since November 2009.
But Constancio then went on to deny any risk of deflation,
saying inflation was set to pick up. That was taken as
diminishing the chance of an easing at the ECB's policy meeting
on Thursday and gave the euro a modest lift.
A Reuters poll of 22 euro money market traders found 18
expected no change in the 0.25 percent main refinancing rate.
The single currency was steady at $1.3795 on
Wednesday, having edged up for a third straight session on
Tuesday. It also gained on a broadly softer yen to reach 142.93
, while the dollar was up at 103.62 yen and near
a three-week top.
Among commodities, Brent crude was quoted at $105.62
a barrel having shed over 2 percent overnight on the possibility
of a jump in supplies from Libya after rebels blocking eastern
oil ports hinted at a deal with Tripoli.
U.S. crude was off 9 cents at $99.63 a barrel in
early trade, after also losing around 2 percent to expectations
for a build in domestic inventories.
Spot gold was sulking at $1,280.36 an ounce, having
touched a seven-week low of $1,277.29 on Tuesday.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)