The Asian markets drew scant impetus from Wall Street, which closed
little changed ahead of the jobs report.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
<.MIAPJ0000PUS> rose 0.4 percent. China's markets are closed on
Market focus is now on whether the April jobs report, which a
Reuters survey of economists forecast to show U.S. employment rising
at its fastest clip in five months, would be strong enough to
decisively tilt sentiment towards the U.S. economy.
U.S. economic indicators have been a mixed batch so far this week,
with first quarter GDP and construction spending falling short of
expectations while consumer spending recorded its largest gain in
more than 4-1/2 years in March and factory activity accelerated last
U.S. Treasuries rallied on Thursday, focusing more on weaker data
that helped build expectations the Fed would be kept from raising
short-term rates before second-half 2015 and perhaps even lead it to
pause stimulus tapering.
The 10-year U.S. Treasury note yield fell to a two-month low on
Thursday, removing support for the dollar.
"After the weak GDP print, a strong non-farm payroll is unlikely to
alter Fed rhetoric — therefore risk (equities and emerging markets)
should rally, specifically in countries tied to the United States
via trade," currency strategists at CitiFX wrote in a note to
Tokyo's Nikkei stock average <.N225> bucked the trend, slipping 0.2
Concerns about slowing growth has depressed the Nikkei this year,
which has underperformed many major markets after a record-breaking
rally of over 50 percent in 2013 thanks to Tokyo's aggressive
stimulus policies. <.T>
Dwindling expectations of fresh stimulus by the Bank of Japan have
also weighed on sentiment, as Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has
repeatedly insisted in recent weeks that the economy can weather the
impact of the sales tax hike that took effect last month.
[to top of second column]
"The BOJ's easing looks so distant now. I would think it's unlikely
to take place this year," said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment
strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Tokyo.
The dollar stood little changed at 102.38 yen after posting a modest
gain against the Japanese currency on Thursday. The euro was also
flat, trading at $1.3860.
Sterling was at $1.6884, hovering near a five-year high of $1.6921
hit on Thursday after robust manufacturing data bolstered optimism
in the British economy.
In the commodities markets, oil remained top-heavy after slipping
Thursday on disappointing Chinese manufacturing activity and data
showing U.S. crude stocks rose last week to their highest level
since 1982. <O/R>
U.S. crude futures stood little changed at $99.47 a barrel.
London copper dipped and was on track to log its biggest weekly loss
in seven weeks, weighed by the Fed's decision this week to continue
tapering of its stimulus, which had provided the commodity markets
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange edged down 0.3
percent to $6,624.75 a metric ton (1.1023 tons). Copper prices have
dropped about 1.9 percent this week
(Additional reporting by Hideyuki Sano in Tokyo;
editing by Eric Meijer)
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