Asian shares look set to post a third straight weeks of gains on Friday as investors scaled back cautious bets on the global economy after a string of positive U.S. economic data and a recovery in oil and commodity prices.
The rebound in risk asset prices could continue if the upcoming U.S. employment report points to solid job gains, but not strong enough to encourage rate rises in the near term.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1 percent, hovering just below its two-month high hit the previous day. Japan’s Nikkei slipped 0.3 percent.
“Globally markets are rolling back the extreme risk-off trading they did in January and February. Part of the reason is that the Fed seems to be easing its insistence on raising rates,” said Norihiro Fujito, senior investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.
On Thursday MSCI’s world equity index covering 46 markets touched a two-month high.
The rally was led by emerging markets, with a measure of emerging-markets shares rising 1.4 percent on Thursday for a fifth day of gains, its longest winning streak this year.
The biggest move came from Brazil’s Bovespa index, which rose more than 5 percent, its biggest gain in six years, on news that President Dilma Rousseff could be implicated in a sweeping corruption scandal.
That encouraged investors who blame her administration’s policies for driving Brazil in deep recession.
On Wall Street, S&P 500 Index rose 0.35 percent to a two-month high of 1,993.4.
The U.S. data published on Thursday was positive on the whole, with factory orders rising and the service sector index showing a continued expansion.
Somewhat dimming the optimism, however, the service sector survey showed the employment in the industries fell in February for the first time in two year.
But that was not necessarily bad for U.S. stocks, as it helped to reduce expectations of the Federal Reserve’s rate hikes and pushed the dollar lower.
The dollar’s index against a basket of six major currencies stood at 97.656, having slipped 0.6 percent on Thursday.
The euro jumped back to $1.0947 from Wednesday’s one-month low of $1.08255.
The yen traded at 113.59 to the dollar, recovering from Wednesday’s two-week low of 114.56.
Gold hit a 13-month high of $1,268.30 per ounce
The Australian dollar stood at $0.7353, holding firm near a three-month high of $0.7374 hit on Thursday, helped by rising iron ore prices.
The spot iron ore for immediate delivery to China’s Tianjin port; hit 4 1/2-month high on Thursday.
Commodity prices have been on the mend, with oil prices recovering more than 30 percent from January’s 12-year lows, helped by hopes of measures to ease global glut.
Brent futures have risen 5.6 percent so far this week to two-month highs of $37.40 per barrel while U.S. crude futures have risen 5.9 percent and last stood at $34.69.