* Markets put positive spin on startlingly weak US growth
* Outlook for low US rates pulls down bond yields, benefits
* Dollar loses ground, gives commodities a lift
* Caution needed ahead of US inflation data pivotal for Fed
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, June 26 Asian shares swung higher on
Thursday as weak U.S. growth seemed to further delay the day
when interest rates might rise, prompting investors to plow
funds into riskier assets in a desperate search for returns.
A shockingly poor reading on the U.S. economy for the first
quarter also pressured the dollar while giving a lift to most
commodities and resource-related currencies. Globally, the
longer term bond prices rose as investors sought out the back
end of the yield curve for better returns.
The prospect that Federal Reserve would keep rates low for
longer encouraged equity investors, though some were cautious in
case a key measure of U.S. inflation due later Thursday
surprised on the high side.
The price index for personal consumption expenditures is the
Fed's favoured measure of inflation and looks likely to have
reached its highest since late 2012 in May.
For now most regional markets were in the black with MSCI's
broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
up 0.8 percent. Japan's Nikkei gained
0.3 percent and Australia 0.7 percent.
On Wall Street, the Dow bounced 0.29 percent, the S&P
500 0.49 percent and the Nasdaq 0.68 percent.
Shares of CBS had shot up 6.2 percent as the U.S.
Supreme Court ruled TV startup Aereo violates copyright law by
using tiny antennas to provide subscribers with broadcast
network content via the Internet.
Markets managed to put a positive spin on data showing the
U.S. economy shrank at an annualised 2.9 percent pace in the
first quarter, far below already-pessimistic estimates.
Analysts emphasised the weakness was mainly due to one-off
factors and a marked rebound was likely this quarter.
Yet the result was so poor that it soured the outlook for
the entire year, such that the Fed's recently lowered forecast
of 2.2 percent growth for 2014 now seems highly optimistic.
This only added to market expectations the Fed would keep
rates near zero well into next year and led investors to push
out ever further on the yield curve in search of returns.
HUNTING FOR YIELD
The trend nudged yields on 10-year Treasuries down to 2.56
percent and away from the June peak of 2.66 percent.
The hunt for yield was even more acute in Europe, where the
European Central Bank recently started charging banks for taking
their cash deposits.
The tide of money pushed yields on German 10-year debt to a
one-year trough of 1.26 percent. That in turn
widened the spread against U.S. paper out to 130 basis points,
giving Treasuries the biggest premium in at least two decades.
That yield advantage could provide the U.S. dollar some
support over time, but for now the sticker shock from the GDP
numbers kept the currency under pressure.
The dollar index fell as far as 80.091, a low not
seen since May 22, while the euro bounced to $1.3633.
Sterling climbed to $1.6987 from a one-week low of
$1.6952, while the Australian dollar popped back above 94 U.S.
cents from $0.9354.
The New Zealand dollar was another commodity-linked currency
doing well, hitting a seven-week high within a hair's breadth of
its 2014 peak. The kiwi was up at $0.8764 having surged
a full U.S. cent in 24 hours.
The weaker U.S. dollar helped gold up to $1,316.60 an
ounce, from a low of $1,310.36 on Wednesday.
In oil markets, U.S. crude was firmer after news of a
government decision to permit exports of lightly refined oil
promised to open a new source of demand for the product.
U.S. crude added 9 cents to $106.59 a barrel, while
Brent dipped 19 cents to $113.81.
(Editing by Eric Meijer & Shri Navaratnam)