* MSCI Asia ex-Japan up 0.9 pct, Nikkei adds 0.7 pct
* Yen falls vs USD as G20 seen accepting Japan reflationary
* Gold, oil off lows but remain vulnerable
* European shares likely to open higher
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, April 19 Asian shares and oil prices
climbed on Friday, but more soft U.S. economic data and mixed
U.S. earnings sustained worries over global growth at the end of
a volatile week that began with a broad sharp sell-off.
European stock markets were seen recovering, with financial
spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's
CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX would open as much
as 0.3 percent higher.
U.S. stock futures were up 0.4 percent to suggest a
firm Wall Street open.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan was up 0.9 percent after falling 0.6
percent the previous session. The index was on track for a
weekly loss of 0.5 percent. The materials sector
led the gains with a 2.3 percent jump.
Shanghai shares were the regional top outperformer,
with a 2.1 percent gain, followed by a 1.5 percent rise in Hong
Kong shares, as investors cheered local news reports
pointing to increased foreign interest in Chinese shares.
Australian shares were up 0.2 percent as mining
stocks rebounded on short-covering after a pause in the recent
heavy selling in commodities. The Australian dollar
edged up 0.2 percent to $1.0324.
"Today it's just a bit of short-covering on those stocks,"
said City Index market analyst Jonathan Preston about Australian
shares. "The miners have really had a tough time on the back of
Oil and gold recovered overnight but remained vulnerable.
Spot gold was up 0.6 percent to $1,398.71, rebounding
after falling nearly 3 percent in Asian trade on Thursday and
from its lowest in more than two years of $1,321.35, touched on
Brent crude oil rose 0.5 percent to $99.59 a barrel
after dipping below $100 to a low of $96.75 on Thursday, its
lowest since early July. U.S. crude rose 0.6 percent at
$88.23, off a 2013 low of $85.61 hit on Thursday.
FUNDS PULLED FROM COMMODITIES
Investors in U.S.-based funds pulled a record $2.7 billion
out of commodities and precious metals funds in the week ended
April 17, raising a red flag over the global economy's growth
prospects. The data from Thomson Reuters Lipper service also
showed that Japanese stock funds attracted a record $1.67
Data on Thursday showed the number of Americans filing new
claims for unemployment benefits rose last week and factory
activity in the U.S. Mid-Atlantic region cooled in April.
Japan's Nikkei average gained 0.7 percent as the
yen's resumed decline helped improve sentiment.
The dollar rose 0.4 percent to 98.55 yen as traders
believed a Washington meeting of Group of 20 countries, which
began on Thursday, would show understanding that the weak yen
trend stems from Japan's aggressive monetary easing aimed at
beating stubborn deflation, and not simply competitive
Japan did not face opposition to its aggressive monetary
easing at the first day of the two-day G20 meeting, Finance
Minister Taro Aso said on Thursday.
"The dollar's long-term uptrend against the yen remains
intact, but overall the U.S. currency's direction is not clear
as the recent softer economic indicators have clouded the
prospect of the Federal Reserve shifting its current stimulus
framework," said Ayako Sera, market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui
EURO STAYS VULNERABLE
The euro, on the other hand, clearly was vulnerable and may
face downward pressures next week if a batch of end-month
economic reports due then showed weakness in economic activities
in the euro zone, Sera said.
The single currency also faces political risks, with Italy's
parliament failing to elect a new state president in its first
vote on Thursday, raising concerns that the lack of a government
would delay fiscal reforms and undermine the
The euro was resilient, holding steady around $1.3064
Morgan Stanley said in a research note that while weak
global growth signals and commodity prices suggest continued
testing times over the next couple of months, the liquidity
being pumped into markets by central banks will continue to lend
"We expect the current pause in currency market trends to be
temporary, providing renewed opportunities to establish bullish
positions in many of the pro-cyclical currencies," it said.