* Spreadbetters expect firm openings in European trading
* Downbeat German data pressures yields, weighs on euro
* Japan's Nikkei underperforms but still marks winning week
* Wall Street rises after U.S. jobless claims suggest Fed on
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Aug 15 Asian shares pulled higher on
Friday, on track for a winning week, while the euro remained
close to nine-month lows after downbeat data raised expectations
of more European Central Bank easing steps.
Conciliatory comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin
on Thursday soothed some fears, although investors warily
monitored the situation on Ukraine border. Dozens of heavy
Russian military vehicles massed there as Moscow and Kiev
struggled to agree on border crossing procedures for
Financial spreadbetters expected European shares to extend
their rebound, calling Britain's FTSE 100 to open up 0.2
percent, Germany's DAX 0.3 percent and France's CAC 40
Euro zone bond yields dropped to record lows on Thursday
after Germany reported its economy unexpectedly shrank in the
"When it comes to news, at least economic, bad news has
resumed its good connotations. Fears of a European recession and
deflationary slump have been welcomed by markets now that the
case for quantitative easing looks irrepressible," Jonathan
Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads, said in a note to clients
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
added 0.3 percent, poised for a weekly gain over
Japan's Nikkei stock average ended flat, though it
gained 3.7 percent for the week, the biggest weekly gain since
Some strategists said that the Japanese market's
underperformance this year compared to other major markets is
likely to make it appear as an attractive value play,
particularly given the prospect of increased buying from the
$1.2 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund. The fund is
expected to announce more allocations to domestic stocks later
"When you think globally, the Japanese market falls behind
its peers," said Hiromitsu Kamata, head of Japanese equity
target department at Amundi Japan.
The Nikkei has dropped about 6 percent since the beginning
of the year, lagging the S&P 500's 5.8 percent rise and a
flat performance from the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index
On Wall Street, stocks rose on Thursday after a rise in
jobless claims suggested the U.S. Federal Reserve will be in no
hurry to hike interest rates, and after Russia's leader made the
conciliatory comments about Ukraine.
Putin told Russian ministers and members of parliament in
Crimea that Russia would stand up for itself but not at the cost
of confrontation with the outside world.
U.S. Treasury yields remained close to recent lows, with the
yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note at
2.408 percent in Asia, not far from its U.S. close of 2.398
percent on Thursday. A week ago, it fell to 2.349 percent, a
level not seen since June 2013.
Yields in Europe slid to even lower levels after the weak
German data, which followed figures showing a similar second
quarter contraction in Italy and stagnation in France, Germany's
biggest trading partner.
The yield on Germany's 10-year bond briefly
traded below 1 percent for the first time to 0.988 percent,
according to traders who contribute data to trading platforms.
Spanish and French bond yields also fell to record lows.
The euro last traded at $1.3365, steady on the day
but not far from last week's nine-month low of $1.3333. It
inched higher against the yen to 137.06.
The greenback edged up about 0.1 percent to 102.52 yen
In commodities trading, U.S. crude steadied at $95.58
a barrel after losing more than $2 in U.S. trade.
Spot gold was steady at $1,312.80 an ounce, after
closing little changed in the previous session. The metal has
gained 0.2 percent this week.
(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by