Asian stocks dipped on Friday as investors grew cautious before a key U.S. jobs report, while the Australian dollar got only a brief lift despite signals from the central bank that interest rates could rise over time.
U.S. President Barack Obama told a crowd in Virginia that he sees the very beginnings of the end of recession, and data showing a sharp drop in U.S. jobless claims last week also buoyed recovery hopes.
But investors were awaiting all-important U.S. non-farm payrolls data later in the day for more conclusive evidence that the world's biggest economy has turned the corner, amid concern that markets may be getting ahead of fundamentals.
Corporate earnings' reports out of Asia continued to highlight the extent of the global recession, with shares of Japanese consumer electronics maker Pioneer Corp <6773.T> tumbling more than 4 percent in Tokyo after it posted a quarterly loss.
It helped drag Japan's Nikkei share index <.N225> down 1 percent.
We're certainly not heading into a downtrend, but we've been gaining for five months now mainly on expectations that company results will improve and it's hard to know if we can maintain this momentum into the rest of the year, said Masayoshi Okamoto, head of dealing at Jujiya Securities in Tokyo. Rises will be tough.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was 0.9 percent lower, but has rallied around 77 percent since a rebound in global equities began on March 9.
Shares in Seoul were flat and Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index <.HSI> fell 1.4 percent while Taiwan markets were closed due to a typhoon.
In Malaysia, Malaysia Airlines'
In currency markets, the Australian dollar got a brief lift but then dipped after the Reserve Bank of Australia raised its economic growth and inflation forecasts and said rates could rise to more normal levels over time.
But lower Asian stocks and caution ahead of the U.S. jobs data pared gains.
Australian share prices also slipped with mining giants BHP Billiton
Prices of copper and nickel slid further on Friday ahead of the U.S. data. While copper prices have doubled this year thanks to Chinese demand, they could quickly lose momentum if data suggests a global economic recovery may take longer than hoped, analysts said.
Sterling stabilized against the U.S. dollar after plunging on Thursday following the Bank of England's shock announcement that it would expand its quantative easing plan as Britain's downturn appeared to have been deeper than previously thought.
Japanese government bond futures edged higher as stocks fell with September 10-year futures up 0.05 point at 137.60.
Oil prices slipped after reaching a six-week high on Thursday.
(Additional reporting by Elaine Lies in Tokyo)
(Editing by Kim Coghill)