TOKYO Asian equities edged up on Friday, taking early inspiration from an overnight rise on Wall Street, while the dollar wobbled ahead of the closely watched U.S. jobs report.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan crept up 0.1 percent. The index was on track to end the week 0.3 percent lower.
U.S. stocks eked out a second straight day of gains on Thursday as a weaker dollar helped materials shares by lifting commodity prices, though disappointing forecasts from retailers and anxiety ahead of Friday's non-farm jobs report limited the advance. The Dow .DJI rose 0.5 percent and the S&P 500 .SPX gained 0.2 percent.
The dollar remained firmly on the back foot after being hit this week by lackluster economic data and dovish comments from some Fed officials that curtailed expectations of a near-term U.S. interest rate hike.
The dollar stood little changed at 116.84 yen JPY= after sinking 1 percent overnight. The greenback, which soared to close to 122 yen recently, was heading for a 3.5 percent loss on the week. It was poised to hand back all the gains made on the Bank of Japan's surprise decision last Friday to adopt negative interest rates.
The euro was steady at $1.1200 EUR= and headed for a 3.4 percent gain on the week, its biggest in more than four years.
The markets will look to the U.S. jobs data to set direction, with the employment report expected to show employers adding 190,000 jobs in January, the median estimate of 108 economists polled by Reuters.
"Markets seem so determined to price out the risk of a Fed rate hike any time soon that it is hard to imagine a January U.S. employment outcome strong enough to reignite pricing for March or June. Even after the US dollar's sharp fall in recent days, there still seems to be greater scope for a USD fall on a weak reading than for a rally on a strong outcome," wrote Sean Callow, a senior strategist at Westpac.
The dollar index stood at 96.568 after stooping to 96.259 overnight, its lowest since late October.Crude oil prices dipped, trimming some of the gains made earlier in the week that had brought some relief to risk asset markets.
U.S. crude extended overnight losses and was last down 0.6 percent at $31.53 a barrel as doubts over major oil producers agreeing to joint output cut overshadowed the positive effects of a weaker dollar.
Spot gold hovered near a 3-month high of $1,157.20 an ounce XAU=, having soared this week on diminished prospects of the Fed raising rates soon. Higher interest rates would in theory reduce the appeal of non-yielding gold.
(Reporting by Shinichi Saoshiro; Editing by Eric Meijer)
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Updated Date: Feb 05, 2016 07:00 AM