By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO (Reuters) -- Asian shares advanced in early trade on Thursday, while growing bets the European Central Bank was gearing up to deliver further stimulus steps kept the euro under pressure.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up about 0.4 percent, after Wall Street put in a nearly flat performance ahead of the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.
U.S. markets will be closed Thursday and most of Friday afternoon.
Japan's Nikkei added 0.5 percent in early trade.
The euro nursed its losses following a drop to a more than seven month low of $1.0565, after ECB officials told Reuters that they are considering options such as whether to stagger charges on banks hoarding cash or to buy more debt ahead of next week's policy meeting, according to officials.
The common currency was steady from late North American trade at $1.0622.
Against the yen, the dollar was nearly flat at 122.65.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six rivals, touched an eight-month high of 100.170 overnight after a spate of U.S. economic data reinforced views that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month for the first time in nearly a decade.
Better-than-forecast durable goods data and jobless claims offset somewhat weaker-than-expected readings on consumer inflation and sentiment, and gave investors no reason to believe the U.S. central bank would not raise rates.
"We see very little to upset or upend the December rate hike," said Dan Heckman, senior fixed income strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Kansas City, Missouri.
"Cumulatively, we think there's no reason for the Fed not to act," he said.
U.S. crude oil futures extended overnight gains, after they erased early losses on Wednesday following data showing a smaller-than-expected supply build in the United States and a drop in the number of U.S. rigs actively drilling for oil.
U.S. crude added about 0.1 percent to $43.08 a barrel.
(Editing by Shri Navaratnam)