Asia shares rise as China injects more stimulus

TOKYO - Asian shares rose on Monday as investors cheered China's latest cut to interest rates to bolster its flagging economy and after Wall Street rallied on a robust headline reading for US employment.

But European stocks were seen opening slightly lower on the day, with lingering concerns over Greece's debt situation seen eclipsing the China stimulus news.

Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100 and Germany's DAX to open as much as 0.1 per cent lower, while France's CAC 40 was seen falling 0.6 per cent.

Later on Monday, the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers will meet, and Greece's government was hopeful that they will note progress on Athens' talks with lenders. The ministers have ruled out unlocking aid for Greece at the meeting, saying that too many issues with the debt-laden country remain unresolved.

"Greek-related headlines have begun filtering out over the weekend, and the debt negotiations will be one of this week's currency themes. Today's Eurogroup meeting and its impact on the euro will be in focus," said Shinichiro Kadota, chief Japan forex strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.4 per cent, moving off a one-month low touched on Friday. Japan's Nikkei share average ended up 1.3 per cent, also stepping away from last week's one-month low.

Chinese shares erased earlier losses and rallied. The CSI300 index of the largest listed companies in Shanghai and Shenzhen was up 2 per cent, while the Shanghai Composite Index was up 2.1 per cent.

China cut interest rates for the third time in six months on Sunday, and analysts predicted policymakers would relax reserve requirements and cut rates again in the coming months.

The easing followed Chinese inflation figures on Saturday that added to concerns about deflationary pressures.


On Friday, all three major US stock indexes posted gains of over 1 per cent, after US Labor Department data showed nonfarm payrolls increased 223,000 last month, while the unemployment rate dropped to a near seven-year low of 5.4 per cent.

The April jobs figures were seen to put the Fed on track for a rate increase as early as September, a Reuters poll found.

But US short-term interest-rate futures implied traders don't expect a Fed rate hike until December at the earliest, based on CME FedWatch, as some people focused on the fact that the previous month's figures were revised to show a gain of 85,000 jobs instead of the 126,000 previously reported.

"Although April data alone does not guarantee that there won't be a US rate hike sooner than expected in the coming months, there is a sense of relief for now," said Hiroyuki Nakai, chief strategist at Tokai Tokyo Research Center.

The mixed report helped lift US Treasury yields. The yield on the benchmark 10-year note stood at 2.135 per cent in Asian trade, compared to its US close of 2.150 per cent on Friday.

The higher yields gave some support to the dollar, which began the week firmer but still stuck in recent ranges against major rivals. The dollar index, which tracks the US unit against a basket of six counterparts, added 0.4 per cent to 95.108. The dollar rose about 0.1 per cent on the day against the yen to 119.92, while the euro skidded about 0.6 per cent to $1.1143.

In addition to Greece's ongoing debt woes, the euro was under pressure after German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives suffered an election defeat. The Eurosceptic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was set to win seats in a fifth regional parliament on Sunday in an election in the city-state of Bremen.

Disappointing German trade data also undermined the euro.

The pound fell about 0.3 per cent to $1.5407, after it notched a 10-week high of $1.5523 on Friday against the greenback, after a surprise election victory by Conservatives.

Newly re-elected British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday ruled out giving Scotland another independence referendum despite gains by Scottish nationalists in a UK-wide election.

Oil got off to a lacklustre start, with Brent edging up 0.1 per cent on the day to $65.46 a barrel after it posted its first weekly loss in a month on Friday as the market fretted again about global oversupply. US crude slipped about 0.1 per cent to $59.31 after rising for an eighth straight week following the US jobs report.