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Asia: Stocks rise before US jobs data as Japanese shares advance

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[SYDNEY] Asian stocks rose on Friday as Japanese shares climbed for the first time in three days before a monthly US government jobs report.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index rose 0.1 per cent to 128.27 as of 9:11 am in Tokyo.

Japan's Topix index rose 0.6 per cent, paring its first weekly loss in a month to 0.8 per cent. The yen traded at 108.99 per US dollar after climbing for three straight days.

Equities in Tokyo have been pressured after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe failed to provide details of a fiscal stimulus package as he announced a delay to a sales-tax increase.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index added 0.5 per cent and South Korea's Kospi index advanced 0.1 per cent.

Investors are turning their focus on macro-economic events this month, with the UK vote on whether to remain in the European Union and investors watchful of economic data that may provide clues on when the US central bank will raise borrowing costs.

"Tonight we have the all important US payrolls figure," said Niv Dagan, executive director at Peak Asset Management LLC in Melbourne.

"Investors are evaluating economic data to determine whether the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates as soon as its next meeting."

Stocks in the US rose to a seven-month high on optimism the American economy is strong enough to withstand higher interest rates. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg forecast employers added 160,000 jobs in May, the same as in April, with the unemployment rate slipping to 4.9 per cent.

It's been a tumultuous year for investors in Asia-Pacific equities.

The regional index began the year with a 14 per cent slump through a February low on concern a devaluation of the Chinese yuan would curb global growth and amid prospects for a US rate increase.

It then rallied almost 20 per cent through this year's peak in April before retreating again. The gauge was down 4.5 per cent from its 2016 high through Thursday.

Futures on Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index added 0.1 per cent and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in the city advanced 0.4 per cent. Futures on the FTSE China A50 Index increased 0.1 per cent.

BLOOMBERG