Most Asian stocks rose on Friday, encouraged by a late rebound on Wall Street, while the euro hovered near 3-week highs against the dollar after a strong investor response to Spanish bond auctions.
Crude oil extended losses, however, as weak economic reports reinforced worries that the U.S. economic recovery was losing steam.
While the immediate euro zone worries about Spanish debt have diminished, as with Greece there's a sense that the real solution to the problems has only been postponed, and this will provoke some uncertainty, said Nagayuki Yamagishi, a strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities in Japan.
But there's no question that risk avoidance has ebbed for now.
MSCI's index of Asian shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> rose 0.4 percent to its highest level in a month, mainly on strength in Hong Kong <.HSI> and Australia <.AXJO>. The index looked set for a gain of about 3 percent on the week, though it is still down about 6 percent so far this year on worries about Europe's festering debt crisis.
Japan's Nikkei <.N225> was slightly lower, but traders said it could still challenge key resistance levels if it can close above 10,000 points, which has been both a support and resistance level several times over the past year.
While global markets have moved off lows seen in May and some technical chart patterns look more positive, analysts are unsure if stocks can stage a convincing recovery in coming months as worries about Europe and the U.S. economy linger. Volumes have been thin, indicating investors lack confidence that shares can gain much traction.
U.S. stocks ended slightly higher overnight as investors bought defensive shares, but key indexes were lower for much of the day, weighed down by weak manufacturing and jobless claims data. Though most economists do not expect the U.S. economy to slide back into recession, investors fear second half growth may be tepid, curbing corporate profits. <.N>
The euro was at $1.2384 by midmorning, holding near its 3-week high of $1.2413 set on Thursday, as investors liquidated short positions after Spanish bond auctions drew robust demand.
But Madrid had to pay a hefty premium to sell the bonds compared with previous issues, indicating investors remain concerned about whether euro zone countries with shaky finances will be able to meet their debt obligations.
While the euro has turned higher after months of turmoil, analysts polled by Reuters see little end in sight for its slide against the dollar, which could put fresh pressure on riskier assets from shares to crude oil and drive more investors into safer havens such as bonds.
Median predictions from a survey of more than 50 foreign exchange strategists released on Thursday showed the single currency falling to $1.175 in a year's time, a level last seen in December 2005. Economists see a one-in-five chance that it could hit parity with the dollar this year.
U.S. crude oil futures extended losses on Friday as the sluggish economic data raised doubts about the strength of its recovery.
The West Texas Intermediate crude for July delivery fell 19 cents to $76.60 a barrel after losing 88 cents overnight. Oil prices have jumped 18 percent from a trough below $65 on May 20, but are still down about 12 percent from early May levels.
(Reporting by Yoo Choonsik; Editing by Kim Coghill)