The dollar touched a fresh 3-1/2-year peak against the yen and Asian shares rose on Friday, as gains in U.S. stocks on solid data and Chinese exports beating forecast underpinned investor risk sentiment while denting demand for safe-haven gold.
European markets are seen edging higher, with financial spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX would open up about 0.2%. A 0.1% rise in U.S. stock futures pointed to a steady Wall Street start.
Preceding the release of U.S. nonfarm payrolls, China said February exports grew 21.8% from a year earlier, more than double the estimated rise, while imports fell 15.2%, deeper than an 8.8% drop forecast.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.5%, on track for a weekly gain of 0.8%.
Australian shares added 0.3% while the Australian dollar briefly rose after the Chinese data to around $1.0265 before easing to trade down 0.2% at 1.0244. New Zealand shares closed at a record high. Hong Kong shares surged 1.8% while Shanghai shares rose 0.3%.
Investors now awaited key U.S. jobs data due at 1330 GMT for further signs of strength in the world's largest economy. Analysts expect a rise of 160,000 jobs in February.
Friday's payrolls report is key to gauging the U.S. Federal Reserve's policy course as the Fed will keep its near-zero rate stance until the unemployment rate falls to 6.5%, as long as inflation does not threaten to top 2.5%.
Thursday's data showing an unexpected drop in new initial jobless claims benefits last week indicated a steady economic improvement and drove the Dow Jones industrial average to an intraday record for a third consecutive session. The dollar extended its climb against the yen to a peak of 95.45.
Japan's Nikkei stock average closed up 2.6% at its highest since September 2008.
As the dollar is increasingly bought on a firming U.S. economy, the yen has come under renewed selling pressure due to expectations the Bank of Japan will take bold reflationary measures when a new leadership takes over later this month.
The yen extended its decline against the euro to a low of 124.21 yen before inching back up to 124.85.
PATCHY GLOBAL ECONOMY
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi on Thursday suggested the bank was not in a hurry to act while noting that any threat of contagion to other euro zone members from Italy's inconclusive election results was muted.
The euro was down 0.1% at $1.3091, keeping most of its gains after rallying more than 1% on Draghi's comments on Thursday.
As U.S. equities firmed, the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield remained elevated at 1.997 percent in Asia.
Spot gold also eased 0.1% to $1,576.55 an ounce as investors sought higher returns and abandoned no interest-bearing bullion. For the past month since the dollar bounced off its lows against a basket of key currencies, gold has been capped below a key technical resistance of its 14-day moving average, which stood at $1,583.42 on Friday.
Analysts expect gold to hold ranges above an immediate support of $1,545-50, with a clear break below $1,521 through $1,500 signalling the next phase of weakness.
Southeast Asian bourses remained among the region's top performers, with Indonesia advancing further to reach a record high for a third straight session.
U.S. crude fell 0.3% to $91.33 a barrel and Brent also fell 0.3% to $110.87.
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