TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares rode higher on Tuesday, supported by solid U.S. and Chinese data, while the euro dragged its feet near a 3 1/2-month low on expectations of fresh monetary easing by the European Central Bank.
Japan’s Nikkei hit a two-month high, further boosted by talk of public pension funds increasing their assets allocated to domestic shares.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.2 percent, nearing a one-year high hit last week.
European shares look to a cautious opening ahead of key euro zone inflation data, with the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index at a six-year high. Spreadbetters see Britain’s FTSE falling 0.2 percent and France’s CAC40 0.1 percent.
Asian shares were bolstered by the U.S. Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing activity index rising to 55.4 in May from 54.9 in April.
The data caused some confusion during U.S. trade because the ISM initially announced a far weaker 53.2 and took nearly three hours to issue a correction.
In the end, though, the corrected figure was nearly in line with expectations. Coupled with other data showing a rise in construction spending, it suggested a healthy recovery after the first quarter’s weather-related contraction.
The data came as Chinese data showed signs of improvement. Following Sunday’s data showing activity in the manufacturing sector at the fastest pace in five months in May, while the government’s gauge of service-sector performance on Tuesday showed the fastest expansion in six months in May.
Positive signs in the world’s two largest economies helped to lift MSCI’s world index to a 6-1/2-year intraday high about 1.5 percent away from its lifetime record set in late 2007.
“On the whole, the world’s economy is looking up, growing at a moderate pace,” said Ayako Sera, senior market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.
As solid gains in equity prices undermined the allure of safe-haven assets, gold flirted with a four-month low of $1,240.65 an ounce hit on Monday, having fallen for five days in a row. It last traded at $1,243.80.
Silver also stood near a one-year low of $18.60 hit on Friday, changing hands at $18.79.
The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasuries posted the largest daily advance in more than six weeks on Monday, jumping back to 2.53 percent compared to an 11-month low of 2.40 percent hit on Thursday. It last stood at 2.53 percent.
Global bond yields had fallen sharply in the past few weeks partly on expectations that the European Central Bank will adopt a series of easing measures at its meeting on June 5.
Such expectations have driven the euro down, and the common currency stood at $1.3603, just a whisker above its 3 1/2-month low of $1.3586 hit on Thursday.
The common currency could face more pressure if the euro zone inflation data shows a rising threat of deflation after surprisingly weak German inflation data on Monday.
In contrast, the dollar index rose to its highest level since Feb 13 at 80.681 on Monday, and last stood at 80.603, helped by the solid U.S. numbers.
Against the yen, the dollar rose to 102.49 yen overnight, its highest in a month, though within a familiar range.
The dollar’s resurgence put some emerging market currencies under pressure.
The Brazilian real fell to two-month low of 2.2770 to the dollar, also reflecting the worsening outlook for South America’s biggest economy and uncertainty over the central bank’s currency intervention programme.
The South African rand hit a two-month low of 10.6960 to the dollar on Thursday, hurt by a run of weak data.
In Asia the Indonesian rupiah extended losses to a three-month low of 11,825 to the dollar following Monday’s news of an unexpected trade deficit in April.
The Thai baht recovered from a four-month low hit Monday on hopes of economic reforms by the military government.
Editing by Eric Meijer and Simon Cameron-Moore