Asian shares slip after upbeat U.S. data

Reuters
A man walks through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange
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A man walks through the lobby of the London Stock Exchange August 5, 2011. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

By Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares edged down and the dollar inched higher in early trade on Friday after upbeat U.S. economic data prompted some investors to price in a less dovish policy outlook for the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The euro steadied after plunging in the previous session as euro-zone inflation dropped to its lowest rate in nearly four years, heightening expectations that the European Central Bank will further ease its monetary policy.

Australian shares (.AXJO) gave up 0.1 percent, but still remained just shy of five-year highs. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan also fell 0.1 percent.

U.S. S&P E-mini futures were up about 0.2 percent, after the S&P 500 Index (.SPX) closed down about 0.4 percent but still gained 4.5 percent for the month.

The pace of business activity in the U.S. Midwest jumped in October, exceeding expectations, a report showed on Thursday, soothing some worries about sluggish fourth-quarter growth after last month's federal government shutdown.

A decline in new jobless claims in the latest week also added to evidence that the economy weathered the shutdown storm. New claims fell by 10,000 to 340,000, just above the average estimate of 339,000.

Still, not all investors or economists were convinced that the latest data heralded a shift in monetary policy expectations.

"The existence of noise in the October data will likely make it difficult for the Fed to gather enough evidence to start tapering in December," strategists at Barclays wrote in a note to clients, adding that they still to expect the central bank to begin reducing its current $85 billion monthly bond purchases in March 2014.

The euro was steady from late U.S. levels at $1.3584, moving away from a two-year peak of $1.3833 set one week ago. On Thursday, it suffered its biggest one-day fall against the greenback in six months, tumbling 1.1 percent.

Data on Thursday showed euro-area inflation slowed to a four-year low of 0.7 percent last month, far below the ECB's target of just under 2 percent. Other data showed unemployment held at record highs in September.

The dollar index (.DXY), which measures the greenback against six major currencies, was on track for a sixth session of gains, edging slightly up to 80.249 and pulling further away from a nine-month trough of 78.998 hit one week ago.

Against the Japanese currency, the dollar was slightly higher on the day at 98.36 yen.

Investors awaited Chinese manufacturing activity data later on Friday. China's official PMI is due around 0100 GMT, followed by HSBC's final PMI report at 0145 GMT.

(Editing by Eric Meijer)

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