By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Asian shares rose on Monday on the
hope Greece can avoid a near-term bankruptcy, with euro-zone
finance ministers meeting later in the day, but a regional
Spanish vote favouring separatist parties clouded Madrid's push
for fiscal austerity.
Expectations that an agreement will be reached soon to
disburse crucial aid for debt-stricken Greece, and Germany's Ifo
business climate index rising for the first time in seven months
in November, boosted the euro and riskier assets broadly and
reduced appetite for the safe-haven dollar on Friday.
'If there really is an agreement on Greece today, the euro
could rise above $1.3 against the dollar and 107 against the
yen,' Masafumi Yamamoto, chief FX strategist at Barclays in
Tokyo, said in a research note.
The euro was at $1.2966, hovering near a three-week
high of $1.2991 reached on Friday, and traded at a
seven-month peak of 107.10 yen on Monday.
The dollar inched up 0.1 percent, after falling to a
three-week low of 80.128 against a basket of major currencies on
Friday as risk appetite gained.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 percent after rising to a two-week
high on Friday and ending its best week in more than two months
with a 2.5 percent gain.
Australian shares were up 0.2 percent on gains in
energy and mining stocks, and South Korean shares opened
up 0.4 percent.
Japan's Nikkei stock average opened 1.1 percent
higher at a seven-month high. Japanese financial markets were
closed on Friday for a public holiday.
'Although some investors are cautious against the fast-paced
gains in the Japanese market, they will likely stay buyers on
the back of the improving trading environment in the global
market,' said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager at SMBC Nikko
Some analysts said risk sentiment may be weighed by Spain's
regional elections in Catalonia on Sunday.
Separatists in Spain's Catalonia won regional elections on
Sunday but failed to get the resounding mandate they need to
push convincingly for a referendum on independence.
The separatists parties win could raise concerns about the
negative impact to the Spanish economy and its fiscal
conditions, as Catalonia accounts for 20 percent of the economy
and provides the most tax revenue to the central government.
'If the government is forced to give more autonomy to
Catalonia in its fiscal policy, it risks derailing the push for
fiscal austerity in other provinces, raising the possibility of
shifting market focus back to Spain from Greece and undermining
the euro,' Yamamoto said.
European shares posted their best weekly gain so far this
year after rising for a fifth day on Friday, while U.S. stocks
rose for a fifth day, getting a lift from bellwether technology
firms Intel and Microsoft in light volume
after Thursday's U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
Germany's Ifo index, rising on the back of exports outside
the euro zone and the prospect of strong Christmas sales,
offered hope Europe's growth engine can retain some momentum.
As investors warmed towards risk, the Thomson
Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global commodities
benchmark, rose to its highest close since Oct. 23 on Friday --
its best weekly performance since mid-September with a 1.9
Spot gold eased 0.1 percent to $1,749.98 an ounce on
Monday after rising above $1,750 for the first time in five
weeks on Friday as a drop in the dollar and options-related
buying triggered a technical breakout.
Analysts said Friday's gains could lead to a test above the
$1,800 level which bullion has not seen since its rally to a
record $1,920.30 in September 2011.
U.S. crude was down 0.2 percent to $88.07 a barrel.
(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by
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