GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian stocks on hold for Lunar New Year, bitcoin eyes record highs


* Asian stock markets:

* Many Asian bourses shut for Lunar New Year

* Bitcoin sets record on more signs of acceptance

* Weak 30-year Treasury auction pushes up yields

By Stanley White and David Henry

TOKYO/NEW YORK, Feb 12 (Reuters) – Asian shares hovered justbelow a record high on Friday as mixed U.S. economic data causedsome investors to show restraint after a global stock marketrally pushed many bourses to dizzying heights.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japanfell 0.05%, trading just shy of an all-time highreached in the previous session. Australian stocks lost0.63%. Shares in Tokyo fell 0.2%, pulling back from30-year highs.

Futures for the S&P 500 declined 0.12%. Euro Stoxx50 futures were up 0.03%, German DAX futuresslipped 0.14%, and FTSE futures eased 0.13%, pointing toa subdued start to European trading.

Markets in Greater China and most of Southeast Asia areclosed on Friday for the Lunar New Year holiday. China’s stockand bond markets, foreign exchange and commodity futures marketsare closed through Feb. 17 for the holiday.

Bitcoin surged to a new record high after BNYMellon said it will offer custodian services forcryptocurrencies. The dollar headed for a weekly loss,stung by bitcoin’s assent and disappointing U.S. economic data.

Trading in the United States and Europe on Thursday did notmove prices enough to provide much direction, said TomPiotrowski, a market analyst at CommSec in Sydney.

“We didn’t get much of a lead-in from the northernhemisphere,” Piotrowski said. “Markets are in a bit of a holdingpattern waiting for the next catalyst and it is just a questionof whether that catalyst is going to be a positive one or anegative one.”

World stock markets were holding close to record highs onThursday as investors weighed some tepid economic data againstincreasing vaccinations against COVID-19 and the prospect thatmore government spending and continued cheap money from centralbanks will drive higher growth and, eventually, inflation.

The MSCI world equity index, which tracksshares in 49 countries, fell 0.03% on Friday, also pulling backfrom a record high.

On Wall Street, the Nasdaq and S&P 500 ekedout gains of 0.4% and 0.2%, respectively, while the Dow JonesIndustrial Average slipped 0.02%.

Prices held near records as investors bet on more governmentspending, although enthusiasm was tempered when U.S. PresidentJoe Biden said that China was poised to “eat our lunch,” raisingfears of renewed strain on Sino-U.S. ties.

U.S. weekly unemployment claims fell less than expected andcore consumer prices rose at a slower pace, which caused sometraders to temper the optimism about the economic outlook.

Bitcoin reached a record high of $ 49,000 before erasinggains.

BNY Mellon’s announcement that it will help clients hold,transfer and issue digital assets came just days after ElonMusk’s Tesla revealed it had bought $ 1.5 billion worthof the cryptocurrency and would accept it as a form of paymentfor its cars.

Spot gold fell 0.17% to $ 1,822.21 per ounce. futures fell 0.14% to $ 1,829.50. Gold prices arestill on track for their best week in three amid broad dollarselling.

The dollar index edged up by 0.05% on Friday but wasstill on course for a 0.6% weekly decline.

Soft demand at an auction of $ 27 billion of new 30-yearTreasuries on Thursday rattled bond investors.

The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasuries rose to1.1599%. The 30-year yield initially rose but thenfell back to 1.9398%.

Brent crude fell 0.57% to $ 60.79 a barrel, havingdropped half a percent the previous session. U.S. oilfell 0.64% to $ 57.88 a barrel, after falling by 0.8% onThursday.

OPEC cut its demand forecast and the International EnergyAgency said the market was still oversupplied, which cast agloom over energy markets.

(Editing by Christopher Cushing and Sam Holmes)