TOKYO (Reuters) — Asian shares took a
tentative step forward on Thursday as investors remained wary after
the recent selloff in emerging markets raised concerns about the
global economic outlook.
A mixed picture on global growth added to the cautious tone in
global markets, with many looking ahead to the crucial U.S. jobs
report on Friday for a measure of comfort.
However, a weaker-than-expected U.S. private jobs report promised to
keep investors on tenterhooks at least until the payrolls data is
"If the upcoming payrolls data shows solid job growth after dismal
reading last month, we could confirm that U.S. growth trend has not
changed. That will be a catalyst for markets to stabilize," said
Tohru Yamamoto, chief fixed income strategist at Daiwa Securities.
"But if it is weak again, it will break markets' heart."
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
<.MIAPJ0000PUS> edged 0.2 percent higher but was still near a
five-month low hit on Wednesday.
Japanese stocks bounced after skidding to four-month low this week.
The Nikkei stock average was up 0.8 percent in early trade.
Wall Street had a volatile night, with the benchmark S&P 500 <.SPX>
hitting a 3 1/2-month intraday low of 1,737.92, before ending down
0.2 percent at 1,751.62.
Emerging market shares also remained under pressure with MSCI's
emerging markets index <.MSCIEF> falling 0.1 percent after two days
of steep losses. Still, relative calm in the markets of vulnerable
emerging nations Turkey, South Africa and Russia helped to calm some
of the recent turmoil.
Investors' cautious mood kept the safe-haven yen well bid, with the
Japanese currency not far from a 2 1/2-month high against the
The dollar stood at 101.46 yen, still within sight of a low of
100.755 yen touched on Tuesday.
The euro was capped amid speculation the European Central Bank
may be forced to ease further to ward off the threat of deflation.
The euro traded at $1.3535, off a 10-week low of $1.34765 hit on
Monday, though it has not fully recovered from the damage caused by
surprisingly low inflation reading released last Friday.
Possible steps by the ECB include an interest rate cut, or
suspension of so-called sterilization, or operation to soak up money
it spent on buying government debt, or even a large-scale