Friday, July 8, 2011

ASIA-Shares set for stronger open on growth optimism

WELLINGTON: Asian stocks are set to open higher on Friday, as improved U.S. data and moves by the European Central Bank to support struggling Portugal lifted optimism.

The main Wall Street indices posted solid gains of between 0.7 percent and 1.4 percent, with the tech-laden Nasdaq notching its eighth day of gains, its best rise in two years.

Data showed U.S. private-sector employers added 157,000 jobs last month, more than double what was expected, which, along with a fall in new claims for jobless benefits, raised hopes that Friday's non-farm payrolls report will show an improving labour market.

Other data showed a healthy lift in retail sales for June.

Both the S&P retail index and the Dow Jones Transportation Average hit all-time highs.

Asian stocks listed on Wall Street rose 0.95 percent, while global stocks as measured by the MSCI world equity index rose 0.75 percent.

British stocks were up 0.9 percent and European ''shares rose 0.4 percent to a five week high on the strong U.S. data.

The euro recouped losses as the European Central bank said it would suspend minimum credit rating requirements for Portugal's debt, despite Moody's move to downgrade it to junk territory. The move was seen as showing the ECB, which is raised its benchmark rate to 1.5 percent, will support the euro.

Japanese markets, which snapped a week of rises on Thursday, are seen opening stronger. The benchmark Nikkei held above the 10,000 level with reports of orders by local pension funds and Asian investors supporting the view of future gains going into the earnings season.

Nikkei futures traded in Chicago were 140 points above the last closing level in Osaka.

Australian stocks are looking to a strong start on the gains on Wall Street and higher metals prices. Share price index futures are up 0.7 percent, an 11.5 point premium to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index. ' Reuters


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