Asian stocks bounced back Thursday after tentative steps by euro zone policymakers to tackle a crippling debt crisis, but investors remained wary that the situation could weigh on the euro and Asian currencies.
The euro held most of its gains against the dollar after jumping Wednesday, when Germany and France voiced their commitment to keeping debt-ladened Greece in the euro zone.
The gains in Asia, tracking a rise in global markets, came a day after the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index <.MIAPJ0000PUS> hit a 14-month low, but some fund managers were skeptical that the rebound would be sustained.
I'm a bit surprised by the move today. I was not expecting this and I don't expect it to stay here for the whole day, Simon Burge, a portfolio manager at ATI Asset Management, told Reuters.
I haven't seen anything that provides me comfort that the situation has been dealt with yet.
Equity markets have been hammered since late July on the twin fears of renewed recession in the United States and the potential for Europe's sovereign debt woes to trigger a wider crisis in the financial system.
Japan's Nikkei share average <.N225> rose 1.2 percent, while MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> gained 0.8 percent, with tech stocks the stand-out performers <.MIAPJIT00PUS>. <.T>
The Nikkei was coming off a two-and-a-half year closing low on Wednesday, while the MSCI index remains 20 percent below its 2011 high in April.
In the U.S., optimism over tentative steps to resolve Europe's debt crisis trumped weaker-than-expected retail sales data in the U.S., helping the S&P 500 <.SPX> close up more than 1 percent.
Some traders attributed the gains on Wall Street to short-covering -- when market players buy to realize profits on bets a stock will fall in price -- ahead of inflation numbers in the United States, with Europe still the clear focus. <.N>
European finance ministers have been warned confidentially of the danger of a renewed credit crunch as a systemic crisis in euro zone sovereign debt spills over to banks, according to documents obtained by Reuters on Wednesday.
The euro jumped to a three-day peak of $1.3873 Wednesday after a 25-minute telephone call among the leaders of France, Germany and Greece which boosted confidence that Athens will received the next tranche of aid from the European Union and IMF and avoid imminent default.
The single currency's recovery was further helped after European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso flagged plans to present options soon for the introduction of common euro bonds. The project, however, is likely to meet stiff resistance from Germany.
The single currency was steady on Thursday around $1.3735, although most strategists believe its trend remains downwards, with only short-term solutions to the crisis on the table for now.
Nothing has changed. Greece is still highly likely to have to do more restructuring, said Joseph Capurso, currency strategist at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. He expected the euro to slip as far as $1.3640 by the end of the week.
The dollar edged 0.1 percent higher against a basket of major currencies. <.DXY>
Talk of foreign investors pulling money out of Asia on concerns another global credit crunch may be looming could weigh on regional currencies. Earlier in the week, traders reported heavy fund selling of Asian currencies.
The gains in Asian stocks put safe-haven bets such as gold under pressure.
Spot gold slipped around 0.4 percent to about $1,813 an ounce, after falling nearly 1 percent in the previous session. It hit a record high of around $1,920 an ounce last week.
Oil was little changed, with Brent crude edging down 21 cents to $112.19 a barrel, while U.S. crude lost 22 cents to $88.68.
(Additional Reporting by Cecile Lefort in Sydney and Sonali Paul in Melbourne; Editing by Ramya Venugopal)