Asian stocks advance before monthly US jobs report

SYDNEY (Bloomberg) - Asia's benchmark stock index rose as investors waited for a US employment report for clues on the outlook for monetary policy. Japanese shares climbed as the yen held losses against the US dollar.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.1 per cent to 145.18 as of 9:01 a.m. in Tokyo, on course to slip 0.7 per cent this week. The gauge posted its biggest monthly advance since September 2013 last month and is trading at 14.6 times estimated earnings, near the highest multiple in almost two years.

The Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.1 per cent Thursday with volume 18 per cent below the 30-day average as investors awaited the jobs report. European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said asset purchases amounting to 60 billion euros a month would start next week as the central bank begins quantitative easing to choke off deflation. The ECB also unveiled forecasts for higher economic growth.

The US jobs figure is an important number, John Brady, managing director for global futures and options at RJ O'Brien & Associates LLC in Chicago, told Bloomberg TV. "The labor market recovery in the US could still be described by many doves on the Federal Reserve board as being somewhat fragile. Janet Yellen did sound a little cautious in her recent testimony."

Japan's Topix index advanced 0.2 per cent as the yen traded at 120.07 per dollar after falling 0.4 per cent the previous day. South Korea's Kospi index gained 0.3 per cent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index slipped 0.3 per cent. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index added 0.4 per cent.

Futures on the S&P 500 were little changed. U.S. stocks rose Thursday, after equities posted their biggest two-day slump in more than a month, amid corporate deals.