The U.S. dollar was steady on Friday ahead of payrolls data for November that could show more evidence of a strengthening recovery and give investors a reason to push benchmark U.S. Treasury yields above 3 percent and put more money in equities.
The euro slipped against the dollar after two days of gains, supported overnight by talk that the European Central Bank of was buying bonds of peripheral countries such as Ireland and Portugal, even though no new policy was formally announced.
With the euro little changed this week at $1.3211 and holding above its 200-day moving average despite the euro zone fiscal crisis, investors ahead of the U.S. payrolls report put cash to work in stock markets, lifting Japan's Nikkei share average to its highest since May.
It is clear that the labor situation is improving and with consumption demand -- the final demand that drives all else -- strengthening by the day, hiring should continue to improve, economists at DBS Group in Singapore said in a note.
The Nikkei rose 0.6 percent <.N225>, driven higher mainly on buying of technology stocks.
For a second day, the technology sector also outperformed in the MSCI index of Asia Pacific stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS>. The index was up 0.5 percent and extended a 3.5 percent gain in the week, on track to exceed weekly returns of Japanese stocks for the first time in three weeks.
The U.S. economy is forecast to have generated 140,000 new jobs in November, with signs of a sustained recovery in private sector hiring combined with solid auto sales and continued industrial growth boding well for the macro outlook.
The improving U.S. economic picture has been a factor lifting the entire U.S. government bond yield curve higher.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield edged down to 2.98 percent compared with a four-month high of 3.03 percent reached on Thursday. Since Monday, the yield has risen 16 basis points, half of the entire rise since November.
Though the U.S. labor market report will be center stage on Friday, investors will also been watching for follow-through on Thursday's unexpected narrowing in the spread of higher risk European government bond yields over German bond yields.
Market chatter about the European Central Bank stepping into the market to buy bonds of at-risk countries such Spain and Portugal caused the Spain/Germany 10-year yield spread to narrow to 230 basis points, the least in two weeks.
The Portugal/Germany 10-year yield spread was at 344 basis points, the narrowest since Oct 28.
(Editing by Alex Richardson)