However, disappointing results from Google and IBM knocked their
shares lower after the bell and could crimp technology stocks in the
region. Indeed, the tech and telecoms sectors in
Japan's Nikkei were in the red early Thursday, keeping the overall
Other markets fared better with shares in Seoul up 0.4 percent and
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan adding
The moves mirrored Wall Street, where both the Dow and S&P 500
gained about 1 percent, while the Nasdaq bounced by 1.29 percent.
Yet not all was well. Google Inc lost around 4 percent after hours
as first-quarter revenue fell short of Wall Street targets and
margins narrowed as the price of its ads continued to decline.
IBM Corp suffered after reporting its lowest quarterly revenue in
five years as the company struggles with falling demand for its
storage and server products. Total revenue fell 4 percent to $22.5
billion in the first quarter, below average estimate of $22.91
Shares of the world's largest technology services company fell about
4 percent to $188.20 in after-hours trade.
Currency markets were quieter with the dollar just a whisker firmer
at 102.22 yen, while the euro reached a two-week high of 141.77 yen
before edging back to 141.22.
Investors are now awaiting a speech from Bank of Japan Governor
Haruhiko Kuroda, who on Wednesday affirmed the central bank's
optimistic view of the economy.
LOW INFLATION MEANS LOW RATES
Fed Chair Janet Yellen told the Economic Club of New York that it
might take two years to return to full employment and there was more
risk of inflation staying too low, than going too high.
Yellen said achieving the Fed's economic goals "will likely require
low real interest rates for some time," a policy view she said was
shared broadly across many advanced economies.
"We read this as a not-so-subtle signal that, although the committee
has gradually begun to remove its outright commitment to low rates
and balance sheet expansion, the Fed is in no hurry to accelerate
the trend or initiate a rate hike cycle," said Michael Gapen, and
economist at Barclays.
[to top of second column]
The prospect of low rates for longer helped pull down long-term
borrowing costs. Yields on Treasury 30-year bonds dipped to 3.44
percent and near lows not seen since July last year.
Bonds in Europe continued their spectacular rally amid speculation
that persistently low inflation would force the European Central
Bank to launch further stimulus.
Yields on Spanish 10-year debt sank to their lowest in over eight
years at 3.06 percent, while Italian 10-year yields hit an all-time
trough at 3.11 percent.
Economic news out of the United States was mixed with industrial
production beating forecasts but housing starts disappointing.
Still, investors were cheered by the Fed's Beige Book of anecdotal
information on business activity which showed activity picked up in
recent weeks as a weather-related drag lifted.
Spot gold steadied at $1,302.96 an ounce having found support in the
$1,290/1,293 area after a technical selloff early in the week.
Brent crude rose toward $110 a barrel on Wednesday on mounting
tensions in Ukraine. Ukrainian government forces and separatist
pro-Russian militia staged rival shows of force in eastern Ukraine
on the eve of crucial talks on the former Soviet state's future.
Brent crude for June added 4 cents to $109.64 a barrel, its highest
level since March 3. U.S. crude was up 15 cents at $103.91 a barrel,
shrugging off a huge build in stockpiles.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
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