Asian stocks rose for a fourth day in a row on Wednesday as Chinese factory output jumped to a 19-month high in October, while the ailing U.S. dollar hovered near a 15-month low.
European stock markets were expected to open higher, according to financial bookmakers, and U.S. stock futures edged up, though further gains were becoming more difficult toward the end of the year and some investors look to take profits from this year's rally.
The Australian dollar slid briefly below $0.93 as other data showed new loans from Chinese banks halved from September, leading dealers to take profits just before the currency could retest its October highs.
Nevertheless, other indications of China's economy were within expectations and gave no sign that the recovery that has led the world economy is petering out.
China's recovery has extended into Q4 and this momentum looks set to continue into 2010, said Brian Jackson, strategist with Royal Bank of Canada in Hong Kong.
Growth is still heavily reliant on policy stimulus, easy liquidity and government-directed investment, but we expect to see stronger external demand in the months ahead.
The MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was down 0.2 percent, with technology stocks the clear outperformer.
The Thomson Reuters index of regional shares <.TRXFLDAXPU> was down 0.15 percent.
Japan's Nikkei <.N225> ended largely unchanged on the day.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index <.HSI> rose 1.2 percent to within striking distance of its October high.
Shares of HSBC <0005.HK>
In currency markets, the U.S. dollar remained under pressure, though some analysts began to anticipate a corrective move higher as market participants begin to price in the fading effect of stimulus spending around the world.
The USD correction, when it happens, is likely to be particularly vicious versus the Australian dollar, New Zealand dollar, Canadian dollar, South African rand, and Brazilian real given market positioning and valuations, Standard Chartered strategists said in a note.
The ICE Futures U.S. dollar index <.DXY>, a measure of its value against six major currencies, was largely unchanged after earlier slipping its lowest since August 8.
The index is down 7.7 percent so far this year.
Oil slid 0.4 percent to $78.72 a barrel, after bearish U.S. industry data showing surprise increases in crude and distillate stockpiles.
(Editing by Jan Dahinten)