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Asia: Markets track Wall St up as US jobs come into view

[HONG KONG] Asian markets edged up in muted trade on Thursday while the dollar held gains following a third-straight record close on Wall Street and more positive US data.

With attention now on the release of US jobs figures on Friday and investors trying to figure out Donald Trump's pick as the next Federal Reserve boss, there was little to drive action on a holiday-thinned day.

All three main indexes in New York closed higher after a healthy private jobs report that raised hopes for Friday's key payrolls release.

The news came on the tails of the Institute for Supply Management's report showing growth in the US services sector hit a 12-year high in September and manufacturing activity hit a six-year high.

The data fuelled expectations the Fed will announce a third 2017 interest rate hike before the end of the year.

Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader, said in a note that the figures indicate "a solid outlook for global growth in 2018 and reinforce the OECD's forecast that every economy it covers will be growing in 2018 - the first time in a decade that has been the case".

In Asian equity trade Tokyo ended the morning marginally higher, while Sydney and Singapore were up 0.2 per cent. Wellington and Taipei each gained 0.4 per cent, and Manila put on 0.1 per cent.

Hong Kong, Shanghai and Seoul were closed for public holidays.


The dollar held its gains against major peers as traders try to gauge the next head of the US central bank as Janet Yellen's term ends early next year.

Mr Trump is said to have a list of four drawn up including Ms Yellen, budget chief Gary Cohn, current governor Jerome Powell and ex-board member and fiscal hawk Kevin Warsh is tipped by some analysts to be the favourite.

"The reason the market will react the most to (Warsh) is because he's been the most vocal in his criticism" of current Fed policy, said Priya Misra, head of global rate strategy at TD Securities, which views him as the most likely pick.

"It's clear he's in the hawkish camp," Ms Misra told Bloomberg News.

The euro continues to struggle in the mid- US$1.17 range - having topped US$1.20 just two weeks ago - as Spain's Catalonia crisis drags on.

The European Union urged dialogue to ease the standoff between separatists in the northeastern region and Madrid, but a regional government source said an independence declaration could be as early as Monday.

That comes after the weekend's unofficial vote on breaking away, which has fanned uncertainty in one of the bloc's biggest economies.


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