GLOBAL MARKETS-Japanese stocks edge up, miners drag on Australia

(Updates prices)

* Nikkei up nearly 10 percent in final quarter

* Dollar supported by spike in Treasury yields

* Oil steady above $91 a barrel

* London copper hits record high

By Alex Richardson

SINGAPORE, Dec 29 (BestGrowthStock) – Asian shares rose on
Wednesday, with Japan’s Nikkei maintaining a fourth quarter
rally as investors hunted bargains in one of the developed
world’s cheapest markets, but Australia’s main index lagged as
bad weather hit shares in mining heavyweights.

The dollar was steady after a sharp reversal against the
euro in an erratic previous session, while the Swiss franc
held near a record high against both the dollar and the
euro as investors sought refuge from euro zone debt.

A weaker dollar had lifted demand for commodities priced
in the U.S. currency, and London Metal Exchange copper
rose to a record $9,437.50 a tonne on Wednesday, boosted also
by a stoppage at a key port in major producer Chile.

Copper’s strength failed to support mining giants Rio
Tinto and BHP Billiton , which both fell more
than 1 percent as heavy rain disrupted mining and shipping
operations. China’s Christmas Day interest rate rise also
prompted investors to fret about weaker demand for industrial
metals, but analysts said the impact was likely to be
short-lived.

“The Chinese rate rise was key but it appears it is more
about curbing inflation and demand for base metals will not
fall sharply,” said Ben Potter, research analyst at IG Markets.

Tokyo’s Nikkei rose 0.5 percent, despite the
stronger yen that hurt some big exporters such as Canon Inc
. The Nikkei has risen nearly 10 percent in the final
quarter of 2010, although it is down 2 percent for the year.

With shares trading around 1.1 times book value, Japan
remains one of the cheapest developed markets after debt-hit
Ireland, Greece and Italy.

“There is no solid reason to sell Japanese shares actively
as the outlook for the market is still bright,” said
Mitsushige Akino, chief fund manager at Ichiyoshi Investment
Management.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan
was also up 0.5 percent and has risen more
than 13 percent this year. Australia’s benchmark
underperformed the region to end flat as the big miners weighed.

Australia’s Lynas Corp , which owns the richest
known deposit of rare earth outside China, rose 10.8 percent
after China, which produces 97 percent of the minerals, cut it
export quotas. Rival Arafura rose 11.1 percent.

DOWNBEAT DATA

U.S. shares eked out gains on Tuesday on strength in oil
majors such as Chevron and Exxon Mobil ,
although downbeat consumer confidence data kept gains in
check. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.2
percent and the broader S&P 500 was up 0.1 percent.

Foreign exchange trading was typically choppy in thin
year-end trade, when light volumes can cause exaggerated moves
from modest flows of funds.

A spike in U.S. Treasury yields boosted the allure of the
U.S. currency, with the dollar index (Read more about the global trade. ) , which measures
its performance against a basket of major currencies, steady
around 80.3, off an overnight low of 79.596.

“The market is not driven by factors, but the thin
conditions mean there could be more volatile moves,” said a
trader at a Japanese bank.

The dollar bought around 82.30 yen, and the euro stood at
$1.3130, after beating a rapid retreat from a two-week high
around $1.3274 the previous day.

The slide in U.S. Treasuries prompted a similar retreat
for Japanese government bonds, with March 10-year futures
(2JGBv1: ) down 0.17 point and the 10-year yield up 3.0 basis
points.

Oil eased a little on forecasts of warmer weather in the
blizzard-hit northeastern United States, the world’s biggest
heating oil market. Benchmark U.S. crude futures fell 7 cents
to $91.42 a barrel. The freezing weather had helped drive oil
to a 26-month high at $91.88 on Monday.

“Oil is tracking the cold weather in the northeast of the
United States and also the dollar against the euro,” said
Tetsu Emori, a fund manager at Tokyo-based Astmax Co Ltd.

Spot gold traded around $1,406 per ounce, close to
a two-week high of $1,406.75, as the lacklustre U.S. data
boosted its safe-haven appeal.

“The U.S. economy outlook and monetary policy is a key
factor that influences gold prices,” said Hou Xinqiang, an
analyst at Jinrui Futures in China. “We’ve seen data alternate
between good and bad, showing that the economy is recovering,
but without a strong momentum yet.”

(Editing by Tomasz Janowski)

GLOBAL MARKETS-Japanese stocks edge up, miners drag on Australia