By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares were capped on Tuesday by caution over weak global growth data, but Japanese equities scaled a near five-year peak after the Standard & Poor's 500 Index <.spx> closed at a record high overnight on renewed hopes for a steady U.S. recovery.</.spx>
Focus in Asia this session is on the Reserve Bank of Australia's policy decision due at 0430 GMT.
The majority of analysts polled by Reuters suspect the RBA will not alter monetary policy, but markets have priced in a 50-50 chance of a quarter point easing in the cash rate to a record low 2.75 percent.
"If we don't see a rate cut and the market is tending to lean towards that side, only very slightly, the shine in the yield plays is going to come off and that's what we're seeing this morning," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG, of Australian shares. "If there is a rate cut watch them pick up, they will bounce very, very hard."
Sean Callow, senior currency strategist at Westpac bank in Sydney, said in a research note that the RBA was likely to wait to see a capital investment survey due later this month before making any change.
"We believe it (RBA) will be very keen to see the capex intentions survey on 30 May to judge whether there really is cause to be hopeful over investment once the mining cycle has peaked later this year," he noted.
A 0.4 percent decline in Australian shares <.axjo> weighed on the pan-Asian stock index, dragging MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan <.miapj0000pus> down 0.1 percent. The index hit a 2-1/2-month high on Monday, when market sentiment was buoyed by a much stronger-than-expected U.S. monthly employment report late last week.</.miapj0000pus></.axjo>
South Korean shares <.ks11> gave up thin early gains to trade down 0.3 percent, with automakers leading the drop. Caution ahead of Thursday's policy decision by the Bank of Korea and a weaker yen also added to the bearish market tone.</.ks11>
Japan's Nikkei stock average <.n225> soared 2.9 percent to rise above 14,000 for the first time since June 2008, helped by signs of resilience in the United States, Japan's top export market.</.n225>
US JOBS DATA SURPRISES
Sebastien Galy, currency strategist at Societe Generale said in a note to clients that the actual boost to the risk-on trade after Friday's U.S. jobs data was very limited with some profit-taking evident and the dollar rising.
"The odds are this pattern will continue as is evident in AUD/USD and EUR/USD. The risk trade is very stretched," he said.
The Australian dollar was pressured, trading down 0.1 percent at $1.0237 ahead of the RBA decision. A steady outcome may lift the currency while a cut could spur some selling, traders said.
The euro was also on the defensive, trading at $1.3077, after it fell on Monday when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said the bank, which cut interest rates last week, is watching economic data and is ready to take further action if needed.
The dollar was off 0.3 percent against the yen at 99, possibly readying to test the symbolic 100 yen level again. The dollar hit a four-year high of 99.95 yen on April 11.
The U.S. nonfarm payrolls data caught traders off guard, as most were expecting a gloomier job market after other economic data recently pointed toward slowing growth. The U.S. jobless rate fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest since December 2008.
Other economic indicators were gloomier, with purchasing managers indexes on Monday showing recession dragged on euro zone companies and business growth flagged in China. A report on Friday also showed that U.S. corporate growth slowed in April.
Commodities were mixed.
Spot gold eased 0.3 percent to $1,465.36 an ounce, weighed by continuing outflows in holdings at SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, which hit their lowest since August 2009.
U.S. crude futures fell 0.5 percent at $95.704 a barrel and Brent fell 0.4 percent at $105.09.
London copper was up 1 percent at $7,342 a tonne.
(Additional reporting by Thuy Ong and Jane Wardell in Sydney; Editing by Eric Meijer)