Asian shares hitch a ride on Wall Street's record close
Aug 22 2014 , Tokyo
US home resales rose to a 10-month high in July, factory activity in the mid-Atlantic region hit its highest level since March 2011 in August, and a gauge of future economic activity grew solidly last month.
"A clutch of positive reports on the US economy sharpened the contrast with most of the rest of the world and helped propel the S&P 500 to a record high," analysts at Barclays said in a note to clients.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.1% in early trading, on track for a weekly gain of 0.4%. Japan's Nikkei stock average added 0.2%, poised for a robust 1.9% weekly rise.
Data on German private-sector growth also reassured investors about Europe's biggest economy. Markit's flash composite Purchasing Managers' Index for Germany was 54.9 for August, well above the 50 mark that separates economic expansion from contraction.
Investors awaited a speech by Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen later in the session at the annual gathering of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which will be studied for any fresh signals about the timing of US monetary policy steps.
Kansas City Fed President Esther George told CNBC on Thursday the time has come for higher rates, while less hawkish San Francisco Fed President John Williams said the bank should wait until the summer of 2015.
Minutes from the Fed's July meeting on Wednesday showed policymakers debated whether interest rates should be raised earlier given a surprisingly strong job market recovery.
The dollar hovered just below its 2014 peak against a basket of major currencies early on Friday, with the dollar index steady on the day at 82.172.
The dollar was treading water against its Japanese counterpart at 103.85 yen, after hitting an overnight high of 103.97, in sight of its April peak of 104.13 yen.
The euro was also steady on the day at $1.3278, after the German data helped it pull away from an 11-month trough of $1.3242 plumbed on Thursday.
In commodities trading, spot gold steadied at $1,277.44 an ounce, after losing 1.3% on Thursday to a two-month low, as speculation about an early US interest rate hike sparked a technical selloff after prices broke below a key support level.