TOKYO (Reuters) - Worries over global growth capped Asian share prices on Friday as more soft U.S. economic data and mixed U.S. earnings results further undermined investor sentiment already hit by a broad sell-off that started earlier in the week.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was steady early on Friday after falling 0.6 percent the previous session.
Australian shares inched up 0.2 percent and South Korean shares opened little changed.
Japan's Nikkei average opened 0.4 percent higher.
The Standard & Poor's 500 Index broke under its 50-day moving average for the first time this year, signalling a possible reversal in the market's uptrend to a record peak earlier this month. The S&P 500 is set to post its worst week since June 2012, although it remains up 8.1 percent for 2013.
Oil and gold recovered overnight but remained vulnerable.
"Weak growth signals globally are challenging the recent liquidity-driven moves in currency markets. Moreover, our commodity price predictor suggests continued testing times over the next couple of months," Morgan Stanley said in a research note.
The note added, however, that the liquidity being pumped into markets by global central banks will continue to lend support.
"We expect the current pause in currency market trends to be temporary, providing renewed opportunities to establish bullish positions in many of the pro-cyclical currencies," it said.
Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits rose last week and factory activity in the nation's Mid-Atlantic region cooled in April.
In the euro zone, political risks remained with Italy's parliament failing to elect a new state president in its first vote on Thursday, raising concerns that the lack of a government would delay fiscal reforms and undermine the economy.
Traders will watch a meeting of the Group of 20 countries that began on Thursday in Washington for any critical remarks over the yen's continued weak trend.
The yen was down 0.1 percent against the dollar at 98.24 yen, as market players believed that the weak yen trend would be accepted to be a result of Japan's aggressive monetary easing aimed at beating stubborn deflation, and not simply competitive devaluation.
The euro held steady around $1.3054.
Spot gold was up 0.1 percent to $1,391.80, rebounding sharply after falling nearly 3 percent in Asian trade on Thursday to a low of $1,339.86 an ounce on news that holdings of the world's largest exchange-traded fund, the SPDR Gold Trust, had dropped 1 percent to their lowest level in three years.
Bullion touched its lowest in more than two years of $1,321.35 on Tuesday.
Brent crude oil rose more than $1 a barrel back toward $100 a barrel on Thursday, snapping a six-day losing streak as low prices brought in bargain hunters.
U.S. crude futures were up 0.5 percent at $88.18 a barrel early on Friday after touching a 2013 low of $85.61 on Thursday.
(Editing by Eric Meijer)
Updated Date: Apr 19, 2013 07:15 AM