Asian stocks hit three-year peak on upbeat U.S. data

Fri Jul 4, 2014 2:42am EDT
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By Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares rose to a three-year peak on Friday, though the dollar inched away from overnight highs hit on U.S. jobs data which underscored the strength of the economic recovery.

European stocks were seen taking a breather after recent gains, with financial spreadbetters expecting Britain's FTSE 100 to open 3 points higher and Germany's DAX to open between flat and 1 point higher, both unchanged in percentage terms.

France's CAC 40 was expected to edge 7 points lower, or 0.2 percent.

"Given the strong gains seen already this week, and the absence of U.S. markets for the 4th July Independence Day long weekend, it seems likely that we will probably see a fairly quiet end to what has been a very positive week, with European markets set to open pretty much where they finished off yesterday," said CMC Markets senior analyst Michael Hewson in a note to clients.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2 percent, touching its highest levels since May 2011 and on track for a weekly gain of 1.7 percent.

Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.6 percent to hit a 5-1/2-month high, and gained 2.3 percent for the week.

"The data is driving investors today, and there is no incentive to sell," said Kyoya Okazawa, head of global equities and commodity derivatives at BNP Paribas in Tokyo.

U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by 288,000 last month and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent. Employment has grown at more than 200,000 in each of the last five months, the first such streak since the late 1990s.   Continued...

A woman scratching her head looks at an electronic board showing the graph of the recent fluctuations of Japan's Nikkei average outside a brokerage in Tokyo June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Yuya Shino