By Lisa Twaronite and Wayne Cole
TOKYO/ SYDNEY (Reuters) - A spate of upbeat economic data powered Asian markets on Tuesday and will likely support European shares as well, while gold and the yen lost some of their safe-haven appeal as the U.S. delayed a possible strike on Syria.
Financial spreadbetters expect Britain's FTSE 100 to open up 4 to 8 points, or as much as 0.1 percent; Germany's DAX to gain 3 to 10 points, or as much as 0.1 percent; and France's CAC 40 to ease by 3 to 8 points, or as much as 0.2 percent.
Nokia (NOK1V.HE) will be in focus after Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said it will buy the Finnish company's phone business. With some 66 percent of lendable shares out on loan, according to Markit data, the shares could be vulnerable to a sharp short squeeze higher if the market gives its approval to the 5.44 billion euro deal.
China's non-manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) dropped slightly to 53.9 last month from July's 54.1, remaining solidly above the threshold indicating expansion and suggesting that government measures are supporting the economy.
Chinese manufacturing PMI had shown activity in that sector was at its highest in more than a year. A round of other purchasing managers' surveys for August showed that prospects for the global economy have brightened considerably.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.76percent, building on Monday's 1.2 percent rise and marking a fourth day of gains, while Japan's Nikkei stock average surged 3 percent to a three-week high.
Gold eased about 0.2 percent to $1,391.49 an ounce as investors rediscovered an appetite for risk, while the dollar hit a one-month high against a basket of currencies as well as the yen. The greenback bought as much as 99.70 yen, and the dollar index rose as high as 82.379, also underpinned by expectations for U.S. monetary policy.
"I expect the dollar to be supported amid expectations that the Federal Reserve will start tapering its quantitative easing," said Kyosuke Suzuki, director of forex at Societe Generale in Tokyo.
Traders expect the Fed to start reducing its stimulus at its policy meeting on September 17-18, unless U.S. payroll numbers due on Friday fall short of forecasts.
While tapering expectations support the dollar, any hints that stimulus will be withdrawn sooner rather than later would weigh on equities, particularly those in emerging markets that have come under pressure in recent months on expectations of capital outflows.
"It's not a question of whether the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut quantitative easing, it's a matter of how much and the pace of their reduction," said Jackson Wong, Tanrich Securities' vice-president for equity sales.
"China and Hong Kong may have been comparatively less affected in emerging Asia, but nobody quite knows how much more money could still exit," he said.
Meanwhile, Australia's central bank kept its main cash rate at a record low 2.5 percent as expected on Tuesday, saying the current policy setting was appropriate.
While Wall Street was closed for the Labor Day holiday on Monday, U.S. stock futures posted solid gains with the S&P 500 contract up 0.9 percent.
The upbeat global manufacturing data continued to underpin commodities, with copper prices nearly flat at $7237.75 a tonne, after the previous session's 2 percent rise.
Markets were also unwinding many of last week's safe-haven trades as worries about an imminent military strike against Syria abated after U.S. President Barack Obama decided to seek congressional approval.
Obama's efforts to persuade Congress to back his plan met with scepticism on Monday from lawmakers in his own Democratic Party, who expressed concern the United States would be dragged into a new Middle East conflict.
U.S. crude oil prices slipped 0.7 percent to $106.85 a barrel, while Brent lost about 0.1 percent to $114.23.
(Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo and Clement Tan in Hong Kong; Editing by Eric Meijer and Richard Borsuk)