MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
<.MIAPJ0000PUS> added about 0.8 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock
average <.N225> erased an initial bounce and pulled back 0.7
percent, as snow blanketed Tokyo and the yen pushed higher.
"Japanese stocks have trouble advancing as overseas investors have
become reticent," said Kenichi Hirano, a strategist at Tachibana
Securities in Tokyo.
Australia's main index added about 0.7 percent <.AXJO>, on course to
end five consecutive weeks of losses and mark its biggest weekly
rise since December 2011.
China's consumer inflation remained at a seven-month low in January
while factory gate prices fell for a 23rd consecutive month, broadly
in line with market expectations and consistent with other recent
data showing economic weakness. This gave investors no reason to
expect any change to the central bank's policy stance.
"Inflation is not going to be an issue in China this year," said Tim
Condon, an economist at ING in Singapore.
"They don't have to worry about inflation, so they do have the
flexibility on the monetary and the fiscal side to stimulate a bit
to avert too much of a slowdown. It's good news I think."
On Wall Street on Thursday, investors managed to shrug off the dour
U.S. economic data. The Dow Jones industrial average <.DJI>, the S&P
500 <.SPX> and the Nasdaq Composite <.IXIC> all marked gains,
despite a storm that battered many Eastern states.
U.S. retail sales fell unexpectedly in January, while separate data
showed more claims for jobless benefits last week, against a
backdrop of unusually bad weather.
"While some of the softness is likely weather-related, the weakness
was broad-based enough to suggest consumption is off to a weaker
start in 2014," strategists at Barclays wrote in a note to clients.
"That said, the trend strengthening in real consumption remains, and
we maintain our outlook for modest above-trend economic growth in
2014-15," they added, noting that Treasuries nonetheless got a lift
from the downbeat data.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes stood at 2.737 percent
in Asian trade, compared with Thursday's U.S. close of 2.736
[to top of second column]
Yields have rallied this week after the U.S. Congress approved an
increase in the debt limit and incoming Federal Reserve Chair Janet
Yellen maintained the central bank's commitment to gradually
withdraw its stimulus.
Against the yen, the greenback's early gains unraveled, and it
slumped about 0.1 percent on the day to 102.08 yen, moving away from
Thursday's session high of 102.58 yen.
The dollar index <.DXY> slumped about 0.1 percent to 80.274, though
it remained above Thursday's low of 80.194, a level last seen on
The euro was holding steady at $1.3677, not far from the previous
session's high of $1.3692, which was its highest since January 27.
The common currency had a muted reaction to news that Italian prime
minister will resign on Friday, opening the way for the country's
third administration in a year.
Investors awaited fourth quarter growth data out of the euro zone
later on Friday. Analysts polled by Reuters expect slightly faster
growth in the 17-nation economy.
In commodities trading, U.S. crude inched up slightly to $100.38 a
barrel after skidding on the previous session's dismal U.S. data.
Brent crude add about 0.1 percent to
Spot gold added about 0.2 percent in Asian trading to $1,306 an
ounce, after hitting a three-month high of $1,307.20 earlier in the
The U.S. data gave gold futures a lift and helped them post their
eighth straight gaining session — the longest winning streak since
(Additional reporting by China economics
team; editing by Eric Meijer)
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