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Asian shares edge up, poised for weekly rise


 TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares pulled higher on Friday, on track for a winning week, while the euro remained close to nine-month lows after downbeat data.

Euro zone bond yields dropped to record lows after Germany reported its economy unexpectedly shrank in the second quarter, raising expectations of more European Central Bank easing measures.


MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan added 0.2 percent, poised for a weekly gain over 2 percent.

Japan's Nikkei stock average (.N225) edged down 0.1 percent, though it was still poised to gain over 3 percent for the week.


Some strategists said that the Japanese market's underperformance this year compared to other major markets is likely to make it appear as an attractive value play, particularly given the prospect of increased buying from the $1.2 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund. The fund is expected to announce more allocations to domestic stocks later this year.

"When you think globally, the Japanese market falls behind its peers," said Hiromitsu Kamata, head of Japanese equity target department at Amundi Japan.

The Nikkei has dropped about 6 percent since the beginning of the year, lagging the S&P 500's (.SPX) 5.8 percent rise and a flat performance from the pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index (.FTEU3).


On Wall Street, U.S. stocks rose on Thursday after a rise in jobless claims suggested the U.S. Federal Reserve will be in no hurry to hike interest rates, and after Russia's leader made conciliatory comments about Ukraine.

"Most equity markets in Europe and the Americas ended the day higher, likely bolstered by the 'good news is bad news' presumption that weak economic data would elicit an expansionary policy response, and by conciliatory comments from Russian President Vladimir Putin," strategists at Barclays said in a note to clients.


On Thursday, Putin told Russian ministers and members of parliament in Crimea that Russia would stand up for itself but not at the cost of confrontation with the outside world.

U.S. Treasury yields remained close to recent lows, with the yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note at 2.410 percent in Asia, not far from its U.S. close of 2.398 percent on Thursday. A week ago, it fell to 2.349 percent, a level not seen since June 2013.

Yields in Europe slid to even lower levels after the weak German data, which followed figures showing a similar second quarter contraction in Italy and stagnation in France, Germany's biggest trading partner.

The yield on Germany's 10-year bond briefly traded below 1 percent for the first time to 0.988 percent, according to traders who contribute data to trading platforms. Spanish and French bond yields also fell to record lows.

The euro last traded at $1.3362 (EUR=), steady on the day but not far from last week's nine-month low of $1.3333. It was also flat against the yen at 136.96 (EURJPY=R).

The greenback edged slightly higher to 102.51 yen (JPY=).

In commodities trading, the weak economic data weighed on crude prices. U.S. crude (CLc1) shed about 0.2 percent to $95.72 a barrel after losing more than $2 in U.S. trade.


Spot gold (XAU=) was steady at $1,311.86 an ounce, after closing little changed in the previous session. The metal has gained 0.2 percent this week.