* MSCI Asia ex-Japan up 0.6 pct, Nikkei flat
* Euro edges up to around $1.2640, dollar index down 0.3
* U.S. crude rises above $84.50 a barrel, Brent near $98
* JGB 10-year yield inches down to 0.855 percent
* All eyes on Greek elections on Sunday
By Alex Richardson
SINGAPORE, June 15 (Reuters) - Asian shares rose on Friday
and the euro edged higher as traders placed modest bets that
central banks will unleash further monetary stimulus measures,
but volumes were razor-thin amid fears that Sunday's Greek
election could trigger market turmoil.
Global markets have been volatile this week amid uncertainty
about the outcome of the poll, which could set Greece on a path
out of the euro zone and increase the likelihood of financial
contagion engulfing other weak economies in the bloc.
European shares are expected to open higher, with financial
spreadbetters calling the main indexes in London, Paris
and Frankfurt up 0.5-0.7 percent.
"Despite some traders pricing in a global deluge of cheap
money, today's gains on the open are seen as only modest," said
Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at London Capital Group.
"The uncertainties of the Greek election and the subsequent
volatility are far too risky for some to stomach taking
positions home over the weekend."
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.6 percent, while Japan's Nikkei share
average was flat.
Officials from the G20 nations, whose leaders are meeting in
Mexico next week, told Reuters on Thursday that central banks
were ready to take steps to stabilise financial markets - if
needed - by providing liquidity and preventing any credit
squeeze after Sunday's election.
"The central banks are preparing for coordinated action to
provide liquidity," said a senior G20 aide familiar with
discussions among international financial diplomats.
The news boosted U.S. stocks, which closed up around
1 percent on Thursday, while the euro extended earlier gains.
S&P 500 index futures were modestly higher on Friday.
Disappointing U.S. state joblessness data, which showed new
benefit claims rising for the fifth time in six weeks, dragged
on the dollar, which eased by 0.3 percent against a basket of
major currencies on Friday.
But the numbers, combined with falling consumer prices in
May, also increased expectations that the Federal Reserve will
deliver another monetary boost - and that supported equities and
other riskier assets on Friday.
"The market looks slightly stronger but that doesn't mean
anyone is feeling any more confident about what's coming up,"
said Fujio Ando, senior managing director of Chibagin Asset
Management in Tokyo.
"If you're buying now you want to cut your exposure to
Europe. Look at orders for industrial machinery crashing in
Europe - the region is affecting everywhere else, just like in
Korean stocks underperformed, dragged into the red
by market heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which
fell more than 3.5 percent after a 10-minute stoppage of its LCD
production line due to a power outage.
The two-and-a-half-year-old European debt crisis has
returned to the forefront of investors' concerns in recent
months, wiping out the robust gains made by global equities
in the first quarter of the year.
No Greek party has called for Athens to quit the euro, but
the leftist SYRIZA party, which is running neck-and-neck with
conservative New Democracy, rejects the stringent terms of the
country's 130 billion euro international bailout, without which
Greece will default.
If the election does not return a government committed to
sticking with the bailout plan, investors fear a meltdown in the
financial system that would force Greece out of the currency
bloc and heap further pressure on struggling Spain and Italy.
Underlying the uncertainty, Moody's Investors Service said
on Friday it had downgraded five Dutch banks, with ING Bank
kept on a negative outlook meaning it could be cut
again, kicking off a long-awaited round of downgrades for major
The downgrades did not hit Asian markets however, where the
hopes being pinned on support from central banks helped the euro
gain 0.1 percent to around $1.2640.
Hopes of further monetary stimulus were also boosted by
Britain, which announced on Thursday it would flood its banking
system with cash as the euro zone's crisis casts a "black cloud"
over its economy.
That broad stimulus hope helped lift commodities, viewed as
riskier assets because demand is closely tied to economic growth
expectations, with copper rising 0.8 percent to
around$7,475 a tonne, on track for its first weekly rise in
Oil also gained, with benchmark U.S. crude up 0.8
percent at around $84.55 a barrel, after OPEC agreed on Thursday
to keep its collective output ceiling unchanged for the second
half of the year at 30 million barrels per day. Brent crude
also rose 0.8 percent to almost $98 a barrel.
Gold was little changed around $1,624 an ounce.
But deep unease over Europe, where Spain's 10-year bond
yield hit a euro-era high above 7 percent on Thursday, kept
demand high for safe-haven debt such as Japanese government
bonds. The benchmark 10-year JGB yield slipped half a basis
point to 0.855 percent.
"These yields aren't great, but they might get even worse
after the Greek election," said a fixed income fund manager at a