By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, Jan 10 (Reuters) - Asian shares steadied on Thursday
following an overnight rise in global equities on early optimism
about U.S. earnings, but investors remained cautious ahead of
China's trade data and the European Central Bank meeting later
in the day.
Global equities rose modestly on Wednesday after aluminium
maker Alcoa Inc kickstarted the U.S. earnings season with
a brighter outlook for global demand. U.S. agribusiness giant
Cargill Inc followed with a four-fold increase in
quarterly earnings on Wednesday.
The FTSEurofirst 300 ended at a 22-month closing
high on Wednesday.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was little changed.
Data for December is expected to show China's export growth
rebounded from a three-month low, although the recovery is
likely to be feeble as U.S. and European demand is still far
below levels that would herald a convincing revival.
The Chinese data should also show the world's
fastest-growing major economy missing its 10 percent target for
trade growth in 2012. The trade balance is forecast at $19.7
If the figures fail to match forecasts, they could weigh on
Australian shares and the Australian dollar.
'If at least $20 billion is not reached, the AUD may feel a
little pressure not only based on the weakening Chinese data,
but also resistance levels being experienced in the AUD/USD,'
said Neal Gilbert, market strategist at GFT Forex, in a note to
Australian shares were down 0.2 percent ahead of the
data from China, Australia's top customer.
South Korean shares opened 0.1 percent higher.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei stock average opened up 0.5
percent as the yen resumed its weakening trend after a pause in
the last couple of sessions.
The dollar had risen about 12 percent over the past two
months against the yen, contributing to the Nikkei's 22 percent
jump in the same period, on expectations for bolder monetary
easing from the Bank of Japan under Japan's new government.
The Japanese economy is expected to recover a little in 2013
if Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's policies of massive fiscal
spending, aggressive monetary easing and a weaker yen produce
the momentum needed to lift Japan from stubborn deflation.
The dollar rose 0.3 percent to 88.14 yen, inching
closer to its highest since July 2010 at 88.48 reached on
Friday. The euro was also up 0.3 percent to 115.09
yen. It last week hit 115.995 yen, its highest since July 2011.
ECB, SPANISH AUCTION AHEAD
The euro held steady against the dollar at $1.3055,
ahead of the ECB's policy meeting, where the central bank is
expected to keep interest rates steady. The Bank of England also
holds its policy meeting later on Thursday.
Spain will test investor appetite for its debts when Madrid
holds its first debt sales of 2013 later in the session. The
Spanish auction could also offer clues on the timing of a
much-anticipated request by the government for international
Wariness over debt issues is not confined to the euro zone,
with investors also watching U.S. debt ceiling negotiations
after lawmakers narrowly avoided the fiscal cliff at the turn of
Oil futures fell slightly on Wednesday after government data
showed U.S. fuel stocks rose sharply last week, a sign of ample
supply in the world's top consumer of oil. U.S. crude was
up 0.1 percent at $93.19 a barrel early on Thursday.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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