* Asian stocks mixed, market wary ahead of key events
* ECB policy decision due later, U.S. jobs data on Friday
* U.S. July 4 holiday seen keeping markets subdued
By Ian Chua
SYDNEY, July 4 Asian stocks opened to little
fanfare on Thursday with investors cautious as key events
including the European Central Bank meeting and the U.S.
non-farm payrolls report loomed.
But there was more conviction in buying U.S. crude, as the
market remained wary of the unrest in Egypt that threatens to
further destabilise the Middle East region, which pumps a third
of the world's oil.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
edged up 0.5 percent, recouping a fraction of
Wednesday's a 2.5 percent slide. Tokyo's Nikkei slipped
0.3 percent, extending a 0.3 percent dip in the previous
"Volume is likely to stay low because of fewer participants
as the U.S. markets will be closed later today," said Hiroichi
Nishi, an assistant general manager at SMBC Nikko Securities.
"Investors are focused on Friday's U.S. jobs data, so they
won't take large positions today."
U.S. crude edged up 0.1 percent to $101.33 a barrel,
holding not far from a 14-month high of $102.18. Wednesday's
rally was further supported by rapidly tightening supplies in
the U.S. domestic market.
Unrest in Egypt came to a head on Wednesday, when the
country's armed forces removed President Mohamed Mursi to force
a resolution to the political crisis, paving the way for an
Also unsettling investors, the Portuguese government is
struggling to survive following the resignations of its foreign
minister and finance minister this week, which could deprive it
of a majority in parliament.
Portugal's stock market dropped more than 5
percent, suffering its biggest fall in around three years, while
government bond yields briefly jumped above 8
percent for the first time since November.
Ructions in financial markets there threatened to spill over
to neighbouring countries and raise borrowing costs.
That risk saw the euro fall as much as 1.5 percent against
the yen at one stage to 128.66 on Wednesday. It has since
recovered to around 130.00.
Against the dollar, the common currency plumbed a five-week
low of $1.2923 before staging a sharp turnaround to
$1.3000. As a result, the dollar index swiftly retreated
from a five-week peak.
The erratic moves overnight were due in part to the
reluctance of investors to hold large bearish positions going
into Thursday's ECB meeting.
While the ECB is expected to leave interest rates unchanged,
it is likely to try to reassure investors rattled by new
political stress in Europe and the U.S. Federal Reserve's plans
to begin winding up its stimulus.
Renewed geopolitical tensions triggered safe-haven buying
that helped underpin bullion. Spot gold was last at
$1,254 an ounce, having gained around 1 percent on Wednesday.
This is also helping the precious metal stabilise from last
quarter's 23 percent slide, its biggest in 45 years.