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Asia: Stocks rise before US jobs report as ECB revamps stimulus

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Asian stocks rose ahead of the monthly US jobs report, after the European Central Bank signaled it could expand stimulus if the rout in financial markets continues to weigh on growth and inflation.

[SYDNEY] Asian stocks rose ahead of the monthly US jobs report, after the European Central Bank signaled it could expand stimulus if the rout in financial markets continues to weigh on growth and inflation.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.3 per cent to 126.54 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo. The gauge has slumped 3.5 per cent this week, on course for its longest streak of weekly losses in four years. The measure has declined for seven weeks and is down almost 20 per cent from its seven-year high in April.

US shares on Thursday pared gains in afternoon trading in New York as optimism about European stimulus gave way to anxiety over Friday's jobs report and its implications on Federal Reserve interest-rate policy.

"A weaker jobs number on Friday may be the straw that breaks the camel's back for a September rate hike," said Jasper Lawler, a London-based market analyst at CMC Markets Plc. "Mario Draghi didn't let markets down. He obliged with not only a promise of more QE if needed, but also announced the ECB can now purchase more of any one debt issue." The payrolls report on Friday represents the last major data point before the Fed meets to discuss the first increase in interest rates in nearly a decade. US data on Thursday showed jobless claims rose more than forecast last week, while a measure of the services industry hovered just below a 10-year high.

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Futures traders are betting the Fed will push back raising its fed funds rate. The probability of an increase in September has fallen to 30 per cent, from 38 per cent at the end of last week, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Japan's Topix index rose 0.5 per cent. South Korea's Kospi index gained 0.3 per cent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced 0.2 per cent. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index slipped 0.2 per cent.

Markets in Hong Kong reopen after a holiday, while mainland Chinese markets remain closed.

The Stoxx Europe 600 Index climbed 2.4 per cent, as investors took assurances of central-bank support after the China-fueled volatility of the past month. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index advanced 0.1 per cent in New York, after briefly erasing gains of more than one per cent.

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