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Europe shares, euro rise as German morale brightens

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[February 25, 2014]  By Wayne Cole

SYDNEY (Reuters)  Asian share markets regained some altitude on Tuesday courtesy of a tailwind from Wall Street which sped to historic highs amid more mergers buzz, while gold extended its recent rally.

The upbeat mood among investors in the United States and Europe also helped calm nerves about China after talk of credit tightening knocked property shares there on Monday.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> added 0.5 percent, while stocks in Seoul <.KS11> gained 0.7 percent.

Japan's Nikkei <.N225> bolted ahead by 1.4 percent to breach the 15,000 barrier, which in turn gave the U.S. dollar a lift on the yen. In Australia, the market briefly touched its highest since mid-2008 <.AXJO> on a run of solid earnings reports.

Asia was following in the footsteps of Wall Street, where the benchmark S&P 500 hit an intra-day record as the Nasdaq punched to peaks last seen almost 14 years ago.

The Dow <.DJI> closed up 0.64 percent, while the S&P 500 <.SPX> gained 0.62 percent and the Nasdaq <.IXIC> 0.69 percent. In Europe, the FTSEurofirst 300 <.FTEU3> index of top regional shares added 0.64 percent.


A surprise improvement in German business morale added to optimism over the euro zone's recovery and helped lift European shares. An one-notch increase in Spain's sovereign debt rating by Moody's Investors Service Inc also helped stocks in Europe.

The latest U.S. economic data disappointed, but once again the weakness was put down to bad weather. Instead U.S. investors focused on a string of merger and acquisition activity that is pumping cash into the market and signaling growing confidence among business leaders.

Radio frequency chipmaker RF Micro Devices Inc <RFMD.O> agreed to buy peer TriQuint Semiconductor Inc <TQNT.O> for about $1.6 billion, and Men's Wearhouse Inc <MW.N> raised its offer for Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc <JOSB.O> by more than 10 percent.

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U.S. Treasuries prices fell as money flowed to equities, but volumes were low. Yields on the benchmark 10-year note were at 2.74 percent, having edged up 2 basis points overnight.

The swing in risk sentiment boosted currencies leveraged to global growth with the Australian dollar up around $0.9032, having gained half a cent on Monday.

The rise in the Nikkei helped nudge the U.S. dollar up to 102.50 yen, while the euro was tracking sideways at $1.3735.

Gold was firm at $1,336.05 an ounce after touching a four-month high, but faces stiff resistance at October's peak of $1,361.60.

Oil prices faded just a little on Tuesday after supply worries gave them a boost the session before. Brent crude dipped 11 cents to $110.53 a barrel, while U.S. oil eased 29 cents to $102.53 a barrel.

(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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