By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares and the dollar firmed on Friday, catching a lift from U.S. stocks’ surge to record highs after U.S. jobs data showed the lowest unemployment rate in six years and underscored the strength of the economic recovery.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS was up 0.1 percent in early trade, close to this week’s three-year highs, while Japan’s Nikkei stock average .N225 rose 0.9 percent.
U.S. markets will closed on Friday for the July 4 Independence Day holiday, so the key monthly jobless report was released on Thursday.
The U.S. Labor Department’s figures showed that nonfarm payrolls rose by 288,000 last month and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent. Employment has grown at more than 200,000 in each of the last five months, the first such streak since the late 1990s.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI passed the 17,000 milestone and the benchmark S&P 500 .SPX rose to within 1 percent of the 2,000 level.
The jobs data pushed up the benchmark U.S. Treasury yield to a two-month high, which in turn burnished the dollar’s appeal. The benchmark 10-year yield US10YT=RR stood at 2.641 percent in Asia, not far from its U.S. close of 2.648 percent on Thursday, when it rose as high as 2.69 percent.
The dollar was steady against the yen in early Asian trade at 102.21 yen JPY=, holding its gains from the previous session in which it ascended a two-week peak of 102.26 yen and marked its largest daily gain in a month.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of rivals, stood at 80.233 .DXY, slightly up from late U.S. levels after marking a one-week high of 80.315 in the wake of the jobs report.
Recent economic data had painted a more ambiguous picture of the U.S. growth outlook, and had given investors no reason to believe that the Federal Reserve would be hiking interest rates anytime soon. That had pushed down U.S. Treasury yields and dented the dollar.
“The stronger-than-expected June employment report overshadowed recent Fed dovishness,” strategists at Barclays said in a note to clients.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi sounded a dovish note himself on Thursday at a news conference after the ECB decided to hold interest rates unchanged, adding to pressure on the European currency. Draghi said that risks facing the euro zone economy mean that rates will stay low for an extended period.
The euro slipped slightly on the day to $1.3604 EUR=, after dropping to a one-week low of $1.3597 on Thursday.
In commodities trading, spot gold XAU= was flat on the day at $1,319.90 an ounce after dropping in line with the stronger dollar.
U.S. crude CLc1 was steady from late U.S. trade at $104.10 a barrel.
(Editing by Eric Meijer)