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GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares higher as investors overlook U.S. hedge fund default

HONG KONG, March 30 (Reuters) - Asian share markets strengthened Tuesday as investors remained focused on the global vaccination program and shook off worries about a hedge fund default that hit international banking stocks overnight.

European stocks look set to open higher with Euro Stoxx futures up 0.35% and Britain’s FTSE futures 0.33% higher.

Sentiment among Asian investors was mixed early but turned positive later in the session with most of the region’s major markets trading higher.

The MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was 0.6% higher, while mainland China’s CSI300 index rose 1%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index found 1.2% to reach 28,668, driven up by a rebound in the city’s tech stock index which has been under pressure from concerns about the Chinese government’s move to increase regulation of those companies.

Japan’s Nikkei was flat, dragged down by Nomura share price weakness, while Australia sounded a weaker tone when the S&P/ASX200 closed down 0.9% at its lowest point for a week.

Credit Suisse’s Asia Pacific senior investment strategist Jack Siu said the prospect of Asian travel bubbles being established had sparked enthusiasm among some investors in the region.

“Tourism dependent Asian economies will benefit,” he said.

Hong Kong’s commerce secretary Edward Yau flagged Monday the government had restarted talks with Singapore to re-establish a potential travel bubble between the cities.

Investor sentiment was still closely tied to the pace of the global vaccine rollout, said Citigroup equity derivative solutions director Elizabeth Tian.

“Investors will also be watching the number of COVID cases as rises in Western Europe and the Philippines sees the return of renewed restrictions, while vaccination attempts threaten to stall amidst supply constraints and vaccine nationalism,” Tian said.

“While restrictions are increased in Europe, the UK will be relaxing stay at home rules,” she added.

Nomura and Credit Suisse are facing billions of dollars in losses and regulatory scrutiny after a U.S. investment firm, named by sources as Archegos Capital, defaulted on equity derivative bets, putting investors on edge about who else might be exposed.

Nomura shares were down a further 1.1% Tuesday after dropping by as much as 16% on Monday when it revealed it could take a $2 billion loss from the hedge fund fallout.

“I don’t think the Archegos Capital issue is over yet, it will still be an issue going forward,” said Kingston Securities executive director Dickie Wong. “The shares have been dumped but there are some investors thinking perhaps family offices could face greater regulation in the future.”

Wall Street pared early losses driven by the banking sector on fears that issues from the downfall of Archegos could spread throughout the banking sector.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3%, the S&P 500 lost 0.09% and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 0.6%.

Benchmark 10-year yields hit 1.7456%, up 2.9 basis points, after earlier trading marginally higher in the U.S. after the state of New York on Monday announced people aged 30 and older could get coronavirus vaccinations starting March 30..

Five-year treasuries rose 2.4 bps to a one-year high of 0.915% during the Asian session.

Oil prices rose as the market’s focus turned to an OPEC+ meeting this week where the extension of supply curbs may be on the table amid new coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.

Reporting by Alwyn Scott and Scott Murdoch; Editing by Sam Holmes, Gerry Doyle and Richard Pullin

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