* MSCI Asia ex-Japan steady, Nikkei opens up 1.7 pct
* Yen hits fresh lows vs dollar and euro
* Samsung Electronics posts record profit
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Asian shares were steady on Friday
after solid global economic data boosted investor appetite for
riskier assets, while the yen hit fresh lows on expectations
Japan will pursue bold policies to beat deflation and stimulate
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan was little changed, with Australian shares
rising 0.3 percent after earlier hitting a fresh
21-month high for an eighth straight session of gains.
South Korean shares opened up 0.1 percent, with the
focus on Samsung Electronics Co's earnings results
after rival Apple Inc's below-estimate results sent
shares of Asian tech companies lower on Thursday.
Samsung posted a record quarterly profit and kept 2013
investment plan at the previous year's level, defying market
expectations of a cut amid waning demand for computer chips and
rival Apple's move to buy fewer of its microprocessors used in
the iPhone and iPad.
The yen's slide after its brief rebound this week bolstered
sentiment for Japanese equities as it lifts earnings prospects
for exporters, ahead of the quarterly earnings season set to
start next week. Japan's Nikkei stock average opened 1.7
"Right now, trading cues are basically these two -- currency
moves and quarterly earnings," said Hiroichi Nishi, assistant
general manager of equity research at SMBC Nikko Securities.
The dollar scaled its highest since June 2010 of
90.695 yen early on Friday while the euro rose to
121.32, its highest since April 2011. Prime Minister Shinzo
Abe's new administration has made clear it wants to correct the
excessive strength of the yen, providing investors a reason to
be short the currency.
The yen has declined sharply since mid-November on
expectations the new government will implement aggressive
monetary easing and huge fiscal spending polices to end decades
of deflation and return Japan to a sustainable growth path.
More than 80 percent of Japanese firms are in favour of
Abe's policy mix, though most also feared Japan would face a
debt crisis within a few years, according to a Reuters poll.
"JPY weakness should continue over the coming year driven by
an expansion of the Bank of Japan's balance sheet relative to
the European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve," said Kit
Juckes, FX strategist at Societe Generale in a note. "I don't
know how long the USD/JPY is going to pause at around 90, but a
move to 100 still seems very likely in the longer run."
Solid data from the United States and Germany after
similarly upbeat manufacturing figures from China, cemented an
improving outlook for the global economy, lifting world equity
and commodity markets.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index briefly topped the
symbolic 500 mark for the first time since December 2007 for a
seventh straight session in the longest winning streak since
October 2006, while European shares hit their 2013 peak.
U.S. factory activity grew the most in nearly two years in
January and the number of new claims for jobless benefits
dropped to a five-year low last week, while a business survey
data from Germany showed its private sector expanding at its
fastest pace in a year this month.
U.S. crude steadied around $95.98 a barrel.