* Spreadbetters see marginally higher open for Europe
* HSBC's China PMI shows first expansion in 6 months
* Aussie rallies towards 2014 highs on China PMI
* Brent crude near 9-mth peak on Iraq concerns
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, June 23 Asian stocks and the Australian
dollar rose on Monday as upbeat news from China's factory sector
and fresh highs on Wall Street fuelled appetites for riskier
assets, while crude oil held near nine-month highs as fighting
in Iraq intensified.
Financial spreadbetters saw a marginally higher open for
Europe markets with geopolitical risks tempering economic
optimism. Britain's FTSE was seen opening up to 0.1
percent higher, Germany's DAX up 0.15 percent and
France's CAC 0.1 percent higher.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
climbed 0.5 percent.
Gains by China shares were tepid with a liquidity squeeze
resulting from new initial public offerings (IPOs) expected to
linger through the month.
Tokyo's Nikkei was up 0.2 percent after some of its
earlier gains were erased.
The MSCI index hit intraday highs after the June HSBC/Markit
Flash China PMI showed China's factory sector activity expanded
for the first time in six months in June, offering new signs the
economy is stabilising thanks to Beijing's measures to shore up
"This month's improvement is consistent with data suggesting
that the authorities' mini-stimulus is filtering through to the
real economy," said Qu Hongbin, chief economist for China at
HSBC, referring to a series of measures announced by the
government in recent months to spur activity.
"We expect policymakers to continue their current path of
accommodative policy stance until the recovery is sustained," he
Risk sentiment was dampened earlier in the year when China
reported an underwhelming run of data showing a cooling in
investment, retail sales and factory output.
The Aussie dollar, which closely tracks the
economic performance of China, Australia's top export market,
rallied on the stronger-than-expected Chinese factory survey.
The Aussie advanced 0.6 percent to $0.9440, having reached a
session high of $0.9444, within easy reach of this year's peak
of $0.9461 scaled in April.
The dollar stood little changed at 101.94 yen after
gaining modestly the previous session as U.S. Treasury yields
The euro was also nearly flat at $1.3610.
In commodities, Brent crude rose 0.3 percent to
$115.20 per barrel, not far off the nine-month high of $115.71
hit on Thursday.
Sunni militants took three towns in Iraq's western Anbar
province on Sunday in a push to evict Iraqi security forces from
Sunni Muslim areas, witnesses and security sources said.
"Sunni insurgents appear to control more towns, which is
helping to keep the oil markets where they are," said Ric
Spooner, chief market analyst at Sydney's CMC Markets. "The oil
markets have a pretty significant risk premium built in already.
Prices are likely to hold these levels."
Repercussion of higher oil prices were felt in other
commodity markets, with copper reaching a three-week high as
stronger crude set off a flurry of technical buying.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange
climbed 0.7 percent to $6,865 a tonne after hitting $6,876 a
tonne, its highest since early June.
The escalating violence in Iraq and geopolitical tensions
also kept safe-haven gold well bid. Spot gold was little
changed at $1,313.10 an ounce, not too far from a two-month high
of $1,321.90 hit on Friday.
The Dow and S&P 500 closed at record highs on
Friday, helped by the prospect of the Federal Reserve keeping
interest rates low for a long period of time.
(Additional reporting by Aileen Wang in Beijing and Himani
Sarkar in Singapore; Editing by Kim Coghill and Richard Borsuk)