Asian stocks rose for a sixth straight week on Friday, their longest string of weekly gains since a global bull market began a year ago, with consumer-related shares leading the way on hopes of a steady economic recovery.

Major European stock markets <.FTEU3> were expected to open as much as 0.4 percent higher, following gains in U.S. and Asian markets, according to financial bookmakers.

U.S. labor and inflation reports overnight supported the prevailing view that monetary policy will stay growth-friendly and liquidity will remain abundant while investor confidence builds, helping Wall Street stocks to an eighth day of gains.

Investors have been pulling cash out of low-yielding money markets at a record pace and pouring it into stocks and bonds in search of higher returns.

However, the two biggest uncertainties in investors' minds -- Greece's debt crisis and inflation in China -- lingered.

Greece's woes are one of the factors that will continue to keep a lid on the global markets, but on the other hand, many investors don't seem to expect the most devastating outcome, said Kenichi Hirano, operating officer at Tachibana Securities in Tokyo.

The Greek finance ministry denied a media report on Thursday that said the heavily indebted country was planning on going to the International Monetary Fund for aid in early April.

Japan's Nikkei share average <.N225> rose 0.8 percent, led by big exporters such as Canon Inc <7751.T> and Honda Motor <7267.T>, which gained 2.4 percent and 1.9 percent, respectively.

The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was up 0.31 percent on the day. It looked set to rise for a sixth consecutive week, the longest string of gains since March-April 2009, when a global equity rally began.

Thailand chalked up the biggest equity gains in the region on Friday, with foreign investors strongly attracted to the value and growth potential of the market despite persistent political uncertainty. The benchmark SETI <.SETI> rose 1.2 percent and is on track to close at its highest level since July 2008.

In South Korea, shares of Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd <005930.KS> were up 0.9 percent after Asia's biggest technology firm said it was targeting double-digit sales growth in 2010 and planned for capital spending to increase this year.

The global economy is likely to sustain its growth momentum this year, helped by economic stimulus measures taken worldwide...but we see increased competition, which will toughen our business outlook, said Choi Gee-sung, who took over as Samsung's chief executive in December.

The expiration of U.S. stock index futures, stock index options, stock options and individual stock futures, known as the quadruple witching, may cause very low volatility to increase in the final hour of trading on Wall Street on Friday.

Traders will have to settle contracts or roll them over.

The euro was steady at $1.3615 after dropping overnight on fears that Greece's fiscal crisis may be a harbinger of what is in store for other weaker economies in Europe. The dollar inched up 0.1 percent to 90.45 yen.

U.S. oil futures slid 0.3 percent to $81.95 a barrel, with expectations that the U.S. dollar would keep appreciating weighing on crude prices.

(Additional reporting by Aiko Hayashi in TOKYO)

(Editing by Kim Coghill)