GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares edge higher on hopes for Greek deal

Chikako Mogi
Reuters Middle East

* MSCI Asia ex-Japan hits two-week high

* Nikkei touches seven-month high

* Euro eases vs dollar, touches seven-month high vs yen

* Oil, gold retreat after rally while dollar index inches up

* European shares likely decline

TOKYO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - Asian shares inched up on Monday

on hopes that Greece can avoid a near-term bankruptcy, with the

market focusing on a euro zone finance ministers meeting later

in the day, but a regional Spanish vote favouring separatist

parties capped gains.

U.S. stock futures were down 0.3 percent, suggesting

a soft Wall Street open, and European shares were seen falling,

with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100

, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX to

open down as much as 0.3 percent.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan

was up 0.2 percent to a two-week high.

It marked the sixth consecutive day of advances and comes

after the euro and global shares climbed on Friday on

expectations that an agreement will be reached soon to disburse

aid for Greece, and after a rise in Germany's Ifo business

climate index.

"There is optimism around in regards to the euro area's

ability to achieve a deal on Greece," said Emma Lawson, senior

currency strategist at the National Australia Bank.

But worries about the Spanish vote and the implications for

Madrid's push for fiscal austerity helped the euro slip 0.1

percent to $1.2960, pulling back from a three-week high

of $1.2991 reached on Friday.

Against the yen, however, the single currency hit a

seven-month peak of 107.13.

The yen was near a 7-1/2-month low of 82.84 yen to

the dollar hit last week. It has been weakening on expectations

of further monetary policy easing with the likely advent of a

new Japanese government next month.

The dollar inched up 0.1 percent, after falling to a

three-week low of 80.128 against a basket of major currencies on

Friday as risk appetite gained.

Australian shares rose 0.2 percent on gains in

energy and mining stocks, but Hong Kong and Shanghai

shares eased slightly.

Japan's Nikkei stock average gained 0.8 percent

after rising to a seven-month high earlier on Monday on views

that a weaker yen will boost earnings for exporters.

"Although some investors are cautious about the fast-paced

gains in the Japanese market, they will likely stay buyers on

the back of the improving trading environment in the global

market," said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager at SMBC Nikko



On Sunday, separatists in the Spanish region of Catalonia

won an election but failed to get the resounding mandate they

need to push convincingly for a referendum on independence.

The win heightens concerns about a potential negative impact

on the Spanish economy and the country's finances, as Catalonia

accounts for 20 percent of the economy and provides the most tax

revenue to the central government.

"While the result helps tone down the risk of the government

being forced to give more autonomy to Catalonia in its fiscal

policy, the underlying discomfort the province may be feeling

about its big fiscal burden may persist," said Masafumi

Yamamoto, chief FX strategist at Barclays in Tokyo.

He added that the result may weigh on the euro more when

trading starts in Europe, where the euro's liquidity is far


On Friday, European shares posted their best weekly gain so

far this year on hopes for Greece and Germany's solid Ifo data,

which followed firmer manufacturing reports from China and the

United States released earlier last week.

London copper edged down 0.1 percent to $7,769.75 a

tonne after rising for two weeks in a row. While signs of

economic recovery in top consumer China helped support prices,

China's official purchasing manufaturers' index due later in the

week will be awaited for more confirmation of the trend.

"A positive PMI number should help a little bit, but we have

not seen any significant improvement in the real economy yet,"

said Beijing-based metals analyst Wan Ling of commodities

research house CRU Group.

The Thomson Reuters-Jefferies CRB index, a global

commodities benchmark, rose to its highest close since Oct. 23

on Friday -- its best weekly performance since mid-September

with a 1.9 percent gain.

Spot gold eased 0.1 percent to $1,750.35 an ounce on

Monday after rising above $1,750 for the first time in five

weeks on Friday.

U.S. crude fell 0.5 percent to $87.88 a barrel and

Brent eased 0.2 percent to $111.12.

Asian credit markets steadied, with the spreads on the

iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment-grade index barely

moved from Friday levels.

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