* MSCI Asia ex-Japan up 0.7 pct, Nikkei hits fresh near 5-yr
* Weak U.S. durable goods orders data dents dollar index
* Euro resilient despite poor German business survey, rate
* Gold, oil recover
* European shares likely subdued
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, April 25 (Reuters) - Asian shares rose on Thursday,
with recovering commodities and views that a run of weak global
economic data will encourage major central banks to keep or
deepen their monetary stimulus improving risk sentiment, but
weak data undermined the dollar.
European stock markets were seen subdued, with financial
spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's
CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX would open narrowly
mixed between a 0.1 percent rise and a 0.1 percent drop.
U.S. stock futures were up 0.1 percent, hinting at a
calm Wall Street open.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
gained 0.7 percent, with Hong Kong shares
rising 1.1 percent and hitting a three-week high, spurred by
recovering commodity prices and positive quarterly earnings from
China Minsheng Bank, the country's seventh-largest lender.
South Korean shares gained 0.4 percent as metals and
chemicals rebounded on higher gold and oil prices, taking in
their stride earnings from Hyundai Motor Co which
showed a 15 percent fall in its quarterly net profit, broadly in
line with forecasts.
Early on Thursday, South Korea said its economy grew a
seasonally adjusted 0.9 percent in the January-March period from
the previous quarter, the fastest in two years and far above
market expectations. The surprising growth dented expectations
for a rate cut by the Bank of Korea.
Adrian Foster, head of financial markets research for
Asia-Pacific at Rabobank International in Hong Kong, said the
main factor behind an improved tone in the region was the recent
rally in the peripheral European government bond market which
reflected waning fears about a euro zone implosion.
"We've already been seeing the market evolve from the
European crisis to focus more on specific issues in a country or
events," he said, adding that it was a positive development
that investors were reverting to behaviour seen before the
U.S. equities were also underpinned by earnings prospect
despite recent soft economic reports, with 68.4 percent of the
174 companies in the S&P 500 index that already have reported
results exceeding analysts' expectations, according to Thomson
Reuters data through Wednesday morning.
The euro zone debt crisis has taken a toll on the European
economy but that has simultaneously strengthened the case for
more easing, raising expectations of a rate cut by the European
Central Bank when it meets next week.
Despite the rate cut speculation and weak euro zone data,
the euro was up 0.3 percent at $1.3050 and away from
Wednesday's three-week low of $1.2954. The resilience of the
single currency partly stemmed from falling yields in
highly-indebted Italy and Spain and hopes Italy will break its
political deadlock two months after an inconclusive election.
The ECB rate cut speculation also helped offset growth
concerns highlighted by U.S. durable goods posting their biggest
drop in seven months in March and the Ifo survey showing that
German business sentiment in April fell further than the most
The U.S. Federal Reserve meets next week and is expected to
reaffirm its commitment to its bond-buying stimulus programme.
"Recent concerns have emanated from weak manufacturing data
in China, the euro zone and the U.S., but none of these
economies have plunged off a cliff," said Thomas Lam, chief
economist at DMG & Partners Securities in Hong Kong.
"Probably we will see some stabilisation in the near term,
based on expectations that central banks will, if not extend
easing, then delay any normalisation of policy," he added.
NIKKEI POWERS AHEAD
Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.7 percent and
hit its highest since June 2008, as a weakening yen bolstered
expectations for improved corporate earnings.
Most observers have welcomed an April 4 decision by the Bank
of Japan to embark on a radical monetary expansion campaign that
could help the global economy. The BOJ plans to inject about
$1.4 trillion into the world's third-largest economy in less
than two years in an effort to end two decades of stagnation.
"The weaker yen is having a positive effect on companies'
earnings, which in turn is lifting stocks," he said. "For now,
we see this trend continuing," said Hiroichi Nishi, an assistant
general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities.
Japan's capital flows data showed on Thursday that Japanese
investors remained net sellers of foreign bonds, in line with
comments from big life insurers that they remain cautious about
immediately shifting their money out of Japanese government
bonds into foreign bonds.
Japanese investors sold a net 862.6 billion yen of foreign
bonds in the week to April 20, while foreign investors turned
net sellers of Japanese shares.
The dollar was down 0.1 percent at 99.33 yen, still
within sight of testing the symbolic 100 yen level which many
traders say is just a matter of time. Against a basket of key
currencies, the dollar was down 0.4 percent.
U.S. crude rose 0.5 percent to $91.89 a barrel and
Brent was up 0.4 percent at $102.13.
Spot gold was up 0.8 percent at $1,442.16 an ounce
while London copper rose 0.8 percent to $7,086 a tonne,
a one-week high.