* Spreadbetters see mixed open for Europe
* Asia in wait-and-see mood before 1230 GMT U.S. jobs data
* Strong ADP report fuels hopes for upbeat nonfarm payrolls
* Focus also on ECB meeting, possible euro comments
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, July 3 Asian stocks lingered near
three-year highs on Thursday as investors waited for the U.S.
nonfarm payrolls report to see if the economy is gaining
Spreadbetters saw a mixed open for Europe, forecasting
Britain's FTSE to open up as much as 0.1 percent higher,
Germany's DAX 0.1 percent lower and France's CAX
Expectations rose on Wednesday after payrolls processor ADP
said U.S. private-sector hiring hit a 1-1/2-year high in June.
The upbeat ADP report heightened expectations that June U.S.
nonfarm payrolls due at 1230 GMT would show the American economy
was picking up speed after a dismal start to the year, helping
boost demand for metals such as zinc and copper.
Three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose
to as high as $7,145 a tonne, its highest level since late
"People were saying, 'What is cheap in the world?' They
figured out the metals were cheap and if things accelerated a
little bit, why not take a position?" said analyst Dominic
Schnider of UBS Wealth Management in Singapore.
Asian equity markets were little changed, with MSCI's
broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
steady after inching up to briefly touch a new
Tokyo's Nikkei flitted in and out of negative
territory, although analysts expected a positive U.S. jobs data
reading to make up for any modest losses.
"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.
A Reuters poll forecast non-farm payroll gains of 212,000.
The data will be released on Thursday because U.S. markets are
closed for Independence Day on Friday, the day the report is
Investors are also keeping an eye on a European Central Bank
meeting later on Thursday, although market participants do not
expect the ECB to do much after it eased policy last month.
The focus was on whether the ECB mentions quantitative
easing or verbally warns against the strength of the euro, which
has crawled higher against the dollar despite last month's
The dollar inched up 0.1 percent to 101.87 yen,
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 $1.3648 after
shedding 0.15 percent overnight.
The Australian dollar fell 0.7 percent to $0.9382,
after the central bank warned that investors were
underestimating the risk of a sharp fall in the currency. It was
knocked down from an eight-month peak the previous day on
disappointing trade data.
In commodities, crude oil extended losses after falling the
previous day on encouraging signs of supply from Libya and Iraq.
U.S. light crude fell 0.4 percent to $104.07 per
Gold also slipped amid the possibility of bullish U.S. jobs
data denting the appeal of the safe-haven metal.
Spot gold fell 0.3 percent to $1,323.55 an ounce,
pulling back from a 3-month high of $1,332.10 hit earlier this
week as tensions in Iraq and Ukraine stoked safe-haven demand.
(Additional reporting by Melanie Burton in Sydney and Ayai
Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by Eric Meijer & Kim Coghill)