* Asian shares gain as S&P 500 touches all-time peak
* Dollar scores 10-week peak on the yen, boosting Nikkei
* 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 added to
their recent rally on Wednesday as investors chose to accentuate
the positive in a mixed bag of global economic data, pressuring
the safe haven yen to a 10-week trough.
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.
Trading was cautious, however, ahead of Thursday's meeting
of the European Central Bank and Friday's U.S. jobs numbers,
both of which could move markets in major ways.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
crept up 0.3 percent to a fresh four-month high,
while Australia's market added 0.2 percent.
The Nikkei outperformed thanks to the drop in the
yen and climbed 1.3 percent.
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 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-year paper rose 2 basis
points to the highest in a week at 2.77 percent.
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 $1.3799, having
edged up for a third straight session on Tuesday. It also gained
on a broadly softer yen to reach 143.30, while the
dollar scored a 10-week top at 103.86 yen.
Among commodities, Brent crude was quoted 16 cents
lower at $105.46 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 7 cents at $99.67 a barrel in
early trade, after also losing around 2 percent to expectations
for a build in domestic inventories.
Spot gold was sulking at $1,282.16 an ounce, having
touched a seven-week low of $1,277.29 on Tuesday.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)