* Strong Empire State and PPI figures help lift dollar
* World Bank sees stronger growth in 2014
By Dominic Lau
TOKYO, Jan 16 Asian shares ticked higher on
Thursday after a set of robust U.S. data and upbeat earnings
from Bank of America helped squash concerns of a slowdown in the
world's largest economy following disappointing jobs growth in
U.S. producer prices posted their biggest gain in six months
in December as the cost of gasoline rebounded strongly, but
inflation pressure remained benign.
Separately, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York said a
gauge of manufacturing in New York state jumped to its highest
level in 20 months in January as new orders soared.
"A strong New York Fed Empire Survey Wednesday has added to
market confidence that last week's soft U.S. jobs report did not
augur a broader slowing in activity, particularly since the
employment component also increased notably," analysts at BNP
Paribas wrote in a note.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
added 0.1 percent in early trade, though holding
below its 200-day moving average.
In Tokyo, Nikkei futures put on 0.3 percent, pointing to a
slightly firmer open for the Nikkei benchmark, which
logged its best one-day rise in four months on Wednesday after
suffering its worst session in five months the day before.
Overnight, U.S. stocks gained, with the Standard & Poor's
500 climbing to an all-time closing high on the back of
the economic data and strong quarterly earnings from Bank of
The U.S.'s second-largest bank said quarterly profit surged
nearly $3 billion as revenue increased and mortgage losses
plunged in the clearest sign yet the bank was shaking off the
impact of the financial crisis.
"The news from Bank of America's fourth-quarter numbers
suggest the U.S. earnings season is in for a solid beat," Evan
Lucas, market strategist at financial spreadbetter IG in
Melbourne, wrote in a note.
Other U.S. banks have also done well so far in the latest
quarterly earnings season, with JPMorgan Chase & Co and
Wells Fargo & Co both reporting better-than-expected
results this week.
Adding to the positive tone, the World Bank raised its
forecast for global growth for the first time in three years as
advanced economies started to pick up their pace, led by the
It predicted global gross domestic product will expand 3.2
percent this year from 2.4 percent in 2013.
Apart from the economic data, the dollar also got a boost
from comments by two of the Federal Reserve's most hawkish
policymakers who take up voting power this year. They said the
central bank should bring its bond-buying campaign to a swift
The euro was steady at $1.3604, having fallen 0.5
percent in the previous session. Against the yen, the greenback
was at 104.57 after gaining 0.3 percent overnight.
"We remain bullish on the USD and see scope for further
downside in EUR/USD and GBP/USD in the near-term," BNP Paribas
The dollar was up 0.4 percent at 81.008 against a
basket of major currencies, further pulling away from a two-week
low of 80.444 set on Tuesday.
Among commodities, gold was up a tad at $1,242.40 an
ounce, stabilising after having hit a near one-week low of
$1,234.10 on Wednesday as the dollar rallied.
U.S. crude futures added 0.2 percent to $94.33 a
barrel, near a two-week high of $94.64 set in the prior day
after U.S. government data showed a larger-than-expected drop in