Asian shares and dollar steady ahead of U.S. jobs data

TOKYO Mon Oct 21, 2013 7:34pm EDT

1 of 10. A visitor walks past logos at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo June 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Toru Hanai

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares steadied at a five-month high and a recently battered dollar stabilized ahead of a key U.S. jobs report later on Tuesday that will give clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will start withdrawing stimulus this year.

The data was originally scheduled for October 4 but its release was delayed by the 16-day U.S. government shutdown.

Many analysts expect the U.S. central bank to delay unwinding the $85 billion-a-month programme given the government shutdown and the possibility of another bitter U.S. budget fight between Democrats and Republicans early next year.

"We doubt that the data, even if strong, can reverse the more dovish sentiment about the Fed," analysts from Societe Generale wrote in a note, adding that the data did not capture the impact of the two-week shutdown.

A senior Fed official said on Monday that it will be "tough" for the Fed to have sufficient confidence in the strength of the U.S. recovery by its meeting in December to start reducing its bond buying.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was flat after climbing to a five-month peak on Monday.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 .AXJO inched up 0.2 percent, hitting a five-year high for a third day in a row. It was on track to log a sixth-day of gains, which will be its longest such run since July.

Investors may be reluctant to make aggressive bets, however, after U.S. stocks ended little changed overnight, partly on concerns that equities have become overpriced after the Standard & Poor's 500 .SPX index's run to record highs last week. .N

According to Thomson Reuters Datastream, the S&P 500 index carried a 12-month forward price-to-earnings ratio of 14.5, above a 10-year average of 14.

Economists in a Reuters survey forecast 180,000 jobs were added in September compared with 169,000 jobs created in August, while the unemployment rate is expected to remain at 7.3 percent.

"A reading anywhere in the 160,000 to 190,000 range would probably be fairly neutral with respect to near-term U.S. dollar direction given the data pre-dates any impact from the October shutdown," analysts from BNP Paribas wrote in a note

"We remain short euro/dollar and sterling/dollar heading into the release, looking for gradual improvement in U.S. data and dovish messaging from European policy makers to revive the policy divergence theme which benefited the dollar in the second quarter," they added.

The dollar was at $1.3674 to the euro, off an eight-month low of $1.3704 marked on Friday, and was holding steady at 98.18 yen after bouncing 0.4 percent in the previous session.

Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar .DXY gained a touch.

U.S. crude prices dipped 0.2 percent to about $99 a barrel, hitting a near four-month low and adding to the previous session's 1.6 percent decline.

Gold was little changed at around $1,313.7 an ounce.

(Editing by Edwina Gibbs)