* Spreadbetters see mixed openings ahead in Europe
* Nikkei shrugs off downbeat GDP, ex-Japan Asia MSCI edges
* China loan data disappoints, other figures fail to impress
By Hideyuki Sano and Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Aug 13 Asian shares eked out modest gains
on Wednesday, as investors remained cautious after downbeat data
from China and Japan and as the crisis in Ukraine threatened a
fragile economic recovery in Europe.
Mainland Chinese shares were knocked off their highs by
surprisingly weak loans data, and other data released later in
the session also missed expectations. Some economists believe
further stimulus may be needed to sustain the recovery and
offset the drag from the cooling property market.
The cautious mood was seen extending into the European day,
with financial spreadbetters expecting mixed starts around the
region. Britain's FTSE 100 was seen opening down 0.2
percent, while Germany's DAX and France's CAC 40
was seen rising 0.2 percent and 0.3 percent,
"Our opening calls for European markets today suggest
stability on the open," IG chief market strategist Chris Weston
wrote in a note to clients.
Japan's Nikkei share average ended up 0.4 percent,
shrugging off downbeat growth data, while MSCI's broadest index
of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.2
China's National Bureau of Statistics released figures in
the afternoon showing industrial output rose 9 percent in July
from a year earlier, as expected, while retail sales climbed
12.2 percent, a shade below forecasts. Fixed-asset investment,
an important driver of economic activity, also missed forecasts,
growing 17 percent in the first seven months from the same
period last year.
Shanghai shares, which had risen sharply over the past few
weeks on hopes of recovery in Chinese economy, reversed their
earlier rise to an eight-month high and were down 0.4 percent
"Institutions will take all these data into considerations,
so we cannot immediately say the market's recent rally is over
or not," said Xiao Shijun, stock analyst at Guodu Securities in
Investors were also wary of developments in Ukraine as a
convoy of 280 Russian trucks carrying humanitarian aid headed
for eastern Ukraine, where government forces are closing in on
While Western officials have voiced suspicions that Russia
would use a humanitarian mission as a pretext for invading
Ukraine, the Russian Foreign Ministry said it would hand off the
convoy to the Red Cross after crossing the border.
"You can't say there's zero chance of a military
intervention. But you can't bet on it either. So investors are
sort of stuck at the moment." said Ayako Sera, market strategist
at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
In further evidence that tit-for-tat sanctions between the
West and Russia are placing a burden on the European economy, a
survey on Tuesday showed German analyst and investor morale
plunged in August to its lowest level in more than 1-1/2 years.
Concerns that Europe's largest economy is losing momentum
just as the region is barely recovering after the debt crisis
have hurt German shares, the euro and the European oil prices as
Prices of copper, seen as a barometer of world demand, fell
to a six-week low of $6,926.50 per tonne on worries
about global growth, and was last down 0.3 percent on the day at
The euro wallowed at $1.3372, steady on the day and
sticking near nine-month low of $1.3333 hit last week.
In oil market, European benchmark Brent crude oil slipped to
a fresh 13-month low of $102.39 per barrel.
Appetite for riskier assets have also been undermined by
violence in the Middle East, giving a boost to safe-haven assets
such as bonds.
U.S. bonds slipped slightly on Tuesday, however, as traders
sold some bond holdings in advance of a combined $40 billion in
longer-dated supply. The 10-year yield was at 2.454 percent
in Asia on Wednesday, not far from a 14-month low of
2.349 percent hit last week.
The Japanese yen, which also tends to rise at times of
depressed sentiment because of its wide use as a funding
currency, was off last week's high of 101.51 yen per dollar to
trade at 102.28 yen, flat from the previous session.
The yen hardly budged after data showed Japan's economy
shrank an annualised 6.8 percent from the previous quarter - the
biggest contraction in three years, but slightly better than
While the soft data is unlikely to shake the Bank of Japan's
conviction that the economy can ride out the tax hike impact, it
could add pressure on the bank for further monetary easing if
weakness in exports and consumption is prolonged.
(Additional reporting by Lu Jianxin in Shanghai; Editing by