Global Markets: Asia shares edge higher, focus on US Jobs
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Asian shares touched fresh 16-month highs on Friday following modest overnight gains in global equities as investors watched progress in U.S. budget talks with expectations for an eventual deal and awaited U.S. Nonfarm payrolls data later in the day.
The euro hovered near a one-week low against the dollar, having fallen after the European Central Bank painted a bleak outlook for the euro zone and discussed cutting interest rates at its policy meeting on Thursday when it kept rates steady. Recent indicators suggesting stabilising growth in China, the world's second- largest, economy also helped improve sentiment, although the Asian Development Bank slightly lowered its 2012 and 2013 growth estimates for developing Asia on Friday as frail global demand drags on the region.
Buoyed by strong domestic demand, developing Asian economies have shown relatively more resilience compared with developed and more export-reliant economies such as Japan and south Korea.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6 percent, and was set for its third-straight weekly gain with a 1.4 percent advance.
The index has gained about 17 percent year-to- date, compared to a loss of nearly 18 percent last year.
South and Southeast Asian bourses have outperformed, with a 32 percent year-to- date surge in the Philippines, a nearly 31 percent gain in Thailand, Indian shares rising 26 percent and Indonesia up 12 percent to date.
Hong Kong shares were up 0.5 percent to a 16-month high and risen 21 percent so far this year, despite facing bouts of pressure from sputtering mainland Chinese markets. South Korean shares were up 0.5 percent and Australian shares jumped 0.9 percent to its highest in nearly seven weeks, as top miners were supported by rebounding iron ore prices and banks recovered from losses the previous day.
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