Asia shares rise before China data, more stimulus seen

Asian shares firmed on Wednesday, shrugging off weakness on Wall Street.

Asia stock index (Reuters) Asia stock index (Reuters)

Asian shares firmed on Wednesday, shrugging off weakness on Wall Street as investors bet that a batch of economic data from China due later in the day would bolster the case for more stimulus in the world's second-largest economy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.5 per cent. Japan's Nikkei stock index edged down slightly.

U.S. stocks ended lower on Tuesday after a recent run-up in global bond yields unsettled investors, though stocks recovered from steeper losses after Treasury yields pulled back slightly from six-month highs.

The yield on benchmark 10-year notes was last at 2.259 per cent, down from its U.S. close of 2.262 per cent.

China will release official data on April industrial production at 11:00 am IST, as well as retail sales figures for last month and fixed investment.

"The PMI prints have not been encouraging," Sean Callow, senior currency strategist at Westpac, said in a note to clients.

On Sunday, the People's Bank of China announced it was cutting its benchmark one-year lending and deposit rates by 25 basis points, the third cut in six months. Economists expect more easing steps from Beijing to help support an economy headed for its slowest growth in a quarter of a century.

The dollar recovered from modest losses against a basket of major currencies, after it was dragged down by a rallying pound which scaled a five-month high after upbeat UK data.

The dollar index added 0.1 per cent on the day to 94.577. Against the yen, the U.S. currency stuck to its recent ranges and was nearly flat on the day at 119.87 yen, while the euro held steady at $1.1214.

Underpinning the euro, German bond yields climbed on Tuesday on optimism that inflation may have bottomed in the euro zone, though investors remained cautious about developments in debt-strapped Greece.

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday called on lenders to break an impasse in cash-for-reform talks after Athens had to resort to a temporary expedient to make a crucial payment to the IMF.

Sterling edged down 0.1 percent on the day to $1.5666 as investors awaited the Bank of England's quarterly inflation report later on Wednesday, after it rose as high as $1.5710 overnight, its loftiest peak since mid-December.

Crude oil added to its gains after Brent rallied 3 percent overnight, as a weaker dollar lifted commodities denominated in the currency and OPEC raised slightly its forecast for world oil demand growth.

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries tweaked its 2015 world oil demand growth forecast to 1.18 million barrels per day (bpd), above a previous estimate of 1.17 million.

Brent was up 0.3 percent at $67.09 a barrel, while U.S. crude built upon a 2.5 per cent surge on Tuesday to tack on another 0.7 per cent to $61.15.