World shares edged up on Thursday, hovering just below all-time highs as markets prepared for a double-header of a European Central Bank policy update and U.S. jobs data after a busy week. Investors were subdued before the two events, both due at 1230 GMT, with stocks, benchmark bonds and the euro and dollar barely budging after an equally cautious day in Asia.
The ECB is set to flesh out the aggressive easing plans it announced last month, while bets for a strong non-farm payrolls number were given a boost on Wednesday as U.S. private-sector hiring hit a 1-1/2-year high. A poll forecast non-farm payroll gains of 212,000 which would be its fifth month above 200,000.
Asian stocks inched down from a three-year high in range-bound trading on Thursday, with investors waiting for the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report to see if the economy is gaining momentum. The upbeat ADP report heightened expectations that the all-important June U.S. nonfarm payrolls due at 1230 GMT would show the American economy picking up speed after a dismal start to the year.
“The market is expecting to see another print north of 200,000 and no doubt sentiment will be riding high following this ADP reading,” Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note to clients.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS dipped 0.1 percent but within a stone’s throw of Wednesday’s three-year peak.
Tokyo’s Nikkei .N225 shed earlier gains to lose 0.1 percent, although analysts expected a positive U.S. jobs data reading to make up for the modest loss.
“If the data shows that the U.S. economy is in good health, Japanese shares in the auto and technology sector will likely be bought,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.
Losses by Asian equities were limited after the Dow .DJI and the S&P 500 .SPX closed overnight at record highs following the ADP data.
The dollar inched up 0.1 percent to 101.88 yen JPY=, helped after the benchmark U.S. Treasury yield rose to a 1-1/2 week high on the strong ADP report.
The euro stood little-changed at $1.3653 EUR= after shedding 0.15 percent overnight.
The Australian dollar fell 0.7 percent to $0.9382 AUD=D4, on shaky ground after being knocked down from an eight-month peak the previous day on disappointing trade data.
In commodities, improved prospects for the U.S. economy in light of the ADP data lifted copper to a four-month high.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange CMCU3 rose to as high as $7,145 a tonne, its highest level since late February.
Crude oil extended losses after falling the previous day on encouraging signs of supply from Libya and Iraq. O/R
U.S. light crude CLc1 fell 0.4 percent to $104.03 per barrel.