Asian shares extend gains on Wall St rally, euro sinks

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets rose Wednesday, adding to the previous day's rally, following a positive lead from Wall Street while concerns over the Ukraine air crash crisis ease.

The euro was wallowing at multi-month lows against the dollar and yen as the West considers another round of sanctions against Russia for its support of Ukrainian rebels who have been accused of shooting down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on Thursday.

Tokyo rose 0.10 per cent, Hong Kong gained 0.25 per cent, Sydney added 0.82 per cent, Seoul was 0.18 per cent higher and Shanghai was flat.

Jakarta rose 0.78 per cent a day after officials declared business-friendly and reform-minded Joko Widodo the winner of the country's tight presidential election.

Global markets rebounded on Tuesday on news that pro-Russian rebels had handed over the black boxes from the Malaysian passenger jet that came down in eastern Ukraine with the loss of almost 300 people.

US shares were given an extra boost by data from the National Association of Realtors that showed sales of existing homes in June accelerated 2.6 per cent to their fastest pace since October. The figures are a boon for the economy, with the property sector a key component.

The Dow rose 0.36 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.50 per cent and the Nasdaq added 0.71 per cent.

Also Tuesday, the Labor Department said inflation slowed to 0.3 per cent in June from 0.4 per cent in May.

The news will do little to add pressure on the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates sooner than the expected mid-2015 range. The Fed holds its next policy meeting on July 29-30.

On currency markets, the euro came under pressure as investors worry about the effects of another round of expected sanctions on Russia, which has been blamed with supplying anti-Kiev militants in Ukraine.

With the eurozone heavily reliant on its giant eastern neighbour for energy supplies, there are fears the bloc's already fragile economy could suffer as a result of any new measures against Moscow.

The single currency was at an eight-month low of US$1.3458 in Tokyo Wednesday, down from US$1.3463 in New York. It also dipped to 136.49 yen - its lowest since February - after closing in the US at 136.62 yen in US trade, and well down from the 137.15 yen in Asia earlier Tuesday.

The dollar fetched 101.50 yen compared with 101.45 yen in New York.

Oil prices were mixed. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery was down 20 US cents at US$102.19 a barrel in mid-morning Asian trade, and Brent crude gained eight US cents to US$107.41.

Gold fetched US$1,308.08 an ounce by 0210 GMT compared with US$1,306.89 late Monday.