European stock futures rose on Friday, shrugging off weakness in Asian equity markets on concerns about sluggish global growth, while another sovereign debt ratings downgrade briefly pushed the euro lower.
Lingering concerns about Europe's debt woes and the latest credit rating cut of Spain by Standard & Poor's underpinned the safety of government bonds, slightly boosting the price of U.S. Treasuries in Asia.
European futures rose as much as 1 percent as encouraging results from Google
The mood was more bearish in Asia, however, after weaker-than-expected China trade data on Thursday raised questions about global growth.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> eased 0.4 percent, but was set for a weekly gain of 5 percent, which would be the largest weekly rise since November last year, when it ended the week up 5.2 percent.
The index has lost around 16 percent in the year to date after heavy declines in August and September, but has clawed back some ground of late on hopes of decisive action from European leaders soon to stem the region's festering debt crisis.
Materials led the index lower as concerns grew about weakening demand from China, but oil and copper recovered earlier losses, partly on technical rebound.
Concerns about China's demand and doubts over Europe's ability to contain the crisis are somewhat overblown, said Tetsu Emori, a fund manager at Astmax Co Ltd in Tokyo.
China's growth may moderate but it will still be high, with domestic demand staying solid over the medium-term even if the pace of growth slowed, while Europe has no choice but stand by Greece, he said.
Investors have undergone adjustments since the spring, reducing excessive positions, and I feel the markets currently stand at a juncture where players want to confirm the floor and survive the month, he said.
China's consumer price index rose 6.1 percent in September from a year earlier, a touch easier than August and lending support to views the central bank will keep interest rates on hold.
Most analysts still expect China to grow at least 9 percent this year.
The Nikkei average <.N225> fell 0.9 percent after hitting a four-week high on Thursday, with shares of camera maker Olympus <7733.T> plunging nearly 18 percent after it fired its CEO.
Hong Kong and Shanghai shares also fell as traders took profits from a rally in banks and property sectors this week, but the benchmarks Hang Seng index <.HSI> and the Shanghai Composite Index <.SSEC> were set for weekly gains of 4.5 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.
China's sovereign wealth fund stepped in to shore up banking shares this week.
The gains this past week are the most significant movement since 2009 and likely herald a positive shift, said Zhong Hua, senior equity analyst at Guotai Junan Securities at an investor conference in Shanghai.
EUROPE STILL EYED
Oil prices recovered after falling on worries about slower demand in China, the world's second-largest oil consumer. Brent crude edged up 0.1 percent to $111.26 a barrel and U.S. November crude rose 0.4 percent to $84.54.
The most active December copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 1.2 percent. Gold, a favorite safe-haven asset, traded flat on Friday, showing muted reaction to the Spain's credit rating downgrade.
The bar is very high for Europe credit news to be considered 'bad' beyond what is priced in, said a Singapore-based trader. My sense is that a lot of premium has been spent and cash hoarded insuring against the worst-case scenario.
Europe is showing signs of accelerating efforts to shore up the euro zone banking sector and limit the damage from the region's spreading sovereign debt crisis, but the cost it would have to pay could pose risks to the single currency and growth.
The region's financial turmoil took a toll on bank earnings, as reduced demand for securities underwriting and acquisition advice eroded earnings of JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The euro dipped after the S&P downgrade of Spain but pared losses to stand little changed at around 1.3802 by mid-afternoon in Asia, keeping it on track for its biggest weekly rally since January.
The European Central Bank said on Thursday that forcing private bondholders to accept losses on euro zone sovereign debt could damage the reputation of the euro, hurt the bloc's banks and encourage volatility on foreign exchange markets.
The ECB's warnings made no specific reference to the debate on increasing previously agreed plans for a 21 percent writedown for banks holding Greek debt.
In its October monthly bulletin, the ECB said downside risks relate especially to financial market turmoil.
ASIA CREDIT WEAKENS
In Asian credit markets, which have reflected the strain of waning confidence in the financial system, spreads on the iTraxx Asia ex-Japan investment grade index widened again by about 10 points early on Friday, after narrowing sharply the day before by about 17 points.
As investors sought relative safety, prices of U.S. Treasury note steadied after inching up earlier on Friday. The benchmark 10-year note yielded 2.1852 percent, compared to 2.1798 percent late in New York on Thursday.
The benchmark 10-year Japanese government bonds inched up but gains were limited.
European officials may still be behind the curve, but with recent steps, the gap between market perception of them doing too little, too late and their actual action is narrowing, said Shinji Nomura, chief fixed-income strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.
(Additional reporting by Akiko Takeda in Tokyo, Rujun Shen in Singapore, Vikram Subhedar in Hong Kong and Clement Tan in Shanghai; Editing by Kim Coghill)