Asian shares inch up on 7-year highs; focus on central banks, Greece

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares scaled seven-year highs following stellar earnings from a few U.S. hi-tech giants, but investors were cautious ahead of central bank meetings this week in the U.S. and Japan and on apparent deadlock in Greece's talks with creditors.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was rose 0.3 per cent in early trade though Japan's Nikkei slipped 0.4 per cent, largely on the yen's gains.

Shares in Inc and Microsoft both jumped over 10 per cent on Friday, boosting the Nasdaq Composite index to a record high, a day after it topped its 2000 peak.

The MSCI All-Country World Index also hit a lifetime high on Friday.

The central role of low interest rates and strong central bank funding in share rallies around the world has given investors good reason to be cautious as the U.S. central bank looks to raising rates from around zero.

But few expect the Fed to use its two-day meeting starting on Tuesday to hint at a move in June, given soft U.S. business spending data published on Friday keeping the dollar near a three-week low against its index basket of currencies.

The U.S. dollar index stood at 96.928 on Monday, having hit a three-week low of 96.755 on Friday.

Against the yen, it eased slightly to 118.90 yen, near its low so far this month of 118.525 touched a week ago.

Speculators are cutting yen short positions, unwinding bets that the Bank of Japan may surprise the markets by further easing monetary policy on Thursday.

The euro stood at US$1.0871, near a three-week high of US$1.0900 on Friday, but the common currency was hampered by growing uncertainty over the likley outcome of Greece's negotiations with creditors.

After no deal was reached between Greece and euro zone finance ministers in their meeting on Friday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble hinted on Saturday that Berlin was preparing for a possible Greek default.

"The bailout talk for Greece is coming to a climax... Proposals from Greece do not include important issues such as pension cuts and labour market reforms and are not something the creditors will be able to stomach," said Koji Fukaya, CEO of FPG Securities.

Oil prices held firm after continued fighting in Yemen helped to boost Brent crude oil prices to a 4 1/2-month high of US$65.80 per barrel on Friday. They last stood at US$65.34.

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