* Spreadbetters see lacklustre start to European trade
* Upbeat U.S. data helps lift S&P 500 to record high close
* Nikkei snaps 9-session winning streak
* Investors await Yellen's speech in Jackson Hole
* Solid German data pulls euro away from fresh 11-month low
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Aug 22 An index of Asian shares neared a
six-and-half-year peak on Friday and was poised for a weekly
gain, after upbeat U.S. economic data sparked another record
close on Wall Street.
Still, investors were cautious ahead of a speech by Federal
Reserve Chair Janet Yellen later in the day at the annual
gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which
will be studied for any fresh signals about the timing of U.S.
interest rate increases.
Financial spreadbetters expected Britain's FTSE 100
to open 2 points lower, or down 0.03 percent; Germany's DAX
to open 5 points lower, or down 0.05 percent; and
France's CAC 40 to open 3 points lower, or down 0.07
"European equities are set to open flat as traders turn
cautious. With little in the way of economic data out today
attention turns towards the Jackson Hole Symposium where traders
will look for further clarity on global interest rates,"
Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads, said in a note to
clients on Friday.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
was up 0.6 percent, on track for a weekly gain
of about 0.9 percent and within a few points of its July 30
high, which was its loftiest level since January 2008.
Japan's Nikkei stock average erased earlier gains
and shed 0.3 percent, breaking its nine-session winning streak
but still marking a robust 1.4 percent weekly gain.
U.S. data on Thursday showed home resales rose to a 10-month
high in July, factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region hit
its highest level since March 2011 in August, and a gauge of
future economic activity grew solidly last month.
The data lifted U.S. shares, with the S&P 500 ending
at a fresh record. S&P 500 e-mini futures were up 0.1
percent in Asia, which could portend more U.S. gains later in
Kansas City Fed President Esther George told CNBC on
Thursday the time has come for higher rates, while less hawkish
San Francisco Fed President John Williams said the bank should
wait until the summer of 2015.
Minutes from the Fed's July meeting on Wednesday showed
policymakers debated whether interest rates should be raised
earlier given a surprisingly strong job market recovery.
The latest data and the minutes helped U.S. Treasury yields
pull away from recent lows, with the yield on the benchmark
10-year U.S. Treasury note at 2.405 percent in Asia,
compared with its U.S. close of 2.407 percent on Thursday. It
dropped as low as 2.30 percent a week ago, its lowest since June
The dollar hovered just below its 2014 peak against a basket
of major currencies Friday, with the dollar index edging
down on the day to 82.071.
The dollar also inched lower against its Japanese
counterpart to 103.69 yen, after hitting an overnight
high of 103.97, in sight of its April peak of 104.13 yen.
The euro steadied at $1.3296, after upbeat German
data helped it pull away from an 11-month trough of $1.3242
plumbed on Thursday.
Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index for
Germany was 54.9 for August, well above the 50 mark that
separates economic expansion from contraction, reassuring
investors about Europe's biggest economy.
In commodities trading, spot gold rose 0.2 percent to
$1,279.90 an ounce, after losing 1.3 percent on Thursday to a
two-month low, as speculation about an early U.S. interest rate
hike sparked a technical selloff after prices broke below a key
U.S. crude was slightly higher at $93.98 a barrel,
but still set to post a fifth straight weekly fall.
(Additional reporting by Ayai Tomisawa in Tokyo; Editing by
Eric Meijer & Kim Coghill)