By Dominic Lau
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares edged away from a four-week low on Monday, and the dollar rose against the euro and yen as a surprise surge in U.S. jobs growth signaled the world's largest economy was on a firmer footing.
U.S. employers added more than 200,000 new jobs to their payrolls last month, almost the twice the amount forecast by analysts and defying expectations that a partial U.S. government shutdown would hamper job growth.
The strong data raised the prospect the Federal Reserve may soon decide to start winding down its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying program to prop up the economy.
But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke and two other top policymakers suggested continued support for the U.S. central bank's massive stimulus campaign.
Adding to the positive sentiment, China's factory output and investment data pointed to signs of stabilization in the economy, though annual inflation climbed to an eight-month high in October, fuelling market worries about policy tightening.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.1 percent after shedding 1 percent on Friday to a four-week low.
Australian shares firmed after the strong Chinese data because of the two country's heavy trade links. The S&P/ASX 200 index (.AXJO) gained 0.3 percent, while the Australian dollar stabilized at $0.9378, having fallen 0.8 percent in the previous session.
The dollar was up 0.2 percent at 99.20 yen, near a seven-week high of 99.41 yen reached last Thursday, and up 0.1 percent at $1.3352, having gained 0.4 percent on Friday.
Against a basket of major currencies, the dollar (.DXY) stood at 81.323, not far from a two-month high of 81.482 touched on Friday.
"The full suite of new data and information balances the risk more evenly for our call for Fed tapering to begin in March. Previously it seemed March was the earliest the Fed would taper owing the weaker hiring trends," analysts at BNP Paribas wrote in a note.
"However, neither GDP nor employment has slowed as much as we previously estimated or feared. Yet Fed speakers have emphasized the need to see an acceleration in hiring, GDP growth and inflation before it begins to taper its bond-buying program."
As the yen weakened, Japan's Nikkei futures climbed 1.2 percent, indicating a stronger open for the Nikkei benchmark (NIK:^9452) after losing 0.8 percent last week.
U.S. S&P E-mini futures held steady after the Standard & Poor's 500 index (.SPX) climbed 1.3 percent on Friday.
U.S. Treasury futures were also stable after the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield rose as much as 15 basis points to a four-week high of 2.763 percent on Friday.
Among commodities, gold was steady at about $1,288 an ounce, having fallen 1.5 percent to a three-week low on Friday.
U.S. crude prices inched up 0.1 percent to around $94.7 a barrel, adding to Friday's 0.4 percent rise.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)
- Budget, Tax & Economy
- Commodity Markets