Asian shares consolidate recent gains

Asian shares consolidated their recent gains on Thursday while global bond prices surged, pushing their yields to multi-month lows, both supported by expectations of easy monetary policy.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan stood flat near one-year high hit on Wednesday, while Japan's Nikkei share average shed 0.5% after five straight days of gains.

On Wall Street, S&P500 index snapped a four-session winning streak on Wednesday to end slightly below a record closing high hit on Tuesday, though it hit an intraday record high.

More notable moves were in US and European bond markets. The 10-year Treasuries yield fell to 2.44% from 2.52%, hitting its lowest level in almost 11 months.

Prior to that, German 10-year Bund yields fell to one-year low of 1.285% following an unexpected increase in German unemployment and a deceleration in the euro zone money supply.

The data reinforced expectations that the European Central Bank will introduce further stimulus at next month's meeting.

On top of rising expectations of easing by the ECB, global share prices were underpinned by the view that the Fed is in no hurry to raise rates even as it is reducing its bond purchases.

"In the past, when share prices rise, bond prices fell. But that no longer applies. We are likely to see a combination of high share prices and low bond yields," said Daisuke Uno, chief strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

The euro also hit 3 1/2-month low of $1.3587 as investors braced for likely monetary easing by the European Central Bank next week.

ECB executive board member Yves Mersch ramped up the rhetoric on Wednesday, saying the June 5 meeting could yield a combination of policies to tackle low inflation and low credit growth, but the timing of implementation could vary.

That followed similar hints by ECB President Mario Draghi and colleague Ewald Nowotny earlier this week.

Measures being prepared by the ECB are likely to include cutting the deposit rate into negative territory - effectively charging banks to hold cash at the ECB overnight - and bank loans aimed at helping to increase lending to smaller companies.

Even weaker than the euro was the British pound, which has been hit in recent days by a combination of slightly weaker economic data and inklings of nascent political risk to Britain's long-term status-quo after the European election.

The pound fell to a one-month low of $1.6697 on Wednesday and last stood at $1.6713.

As a result, the dollar index edged near its April 4 peak of 80.599, last standing at 80.553.

As the dollar gained, gold slipped to lowest level in almost four months, trading at $1,258.10 an ounce, licking its wounds after suffering its biggest daily fall since mid-December on Tuesday.

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