TOKYO (REUTERS) - Investors are counting on the Bank of England to cut interest rates to a record low 0.25 per cent later on Thursday (Aug 4) to support an economy that has slumped since the Brexit vote.
The expected BoE cut would be the first since 2009 as Britain's economy teeters on the brink of recession.
Many market players also believe the BoE may resume its multi-billion-pound quantitative easing programme of government bond purchases.
The British pound traded at US$1.3325, keeping some distance from its three-decade low of US$1.2798 hit almost a month ago, although currency markets may be somewhat ambivalent over how to react to the BoE decision - buy sterling if the BoE cuts, sell if it doesn't, or vice versa?
Asian shares firmed on Thursday after a rebound in oil prices from four-month lows helped to lift Wall Street shares.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 per cent in early trade, led by gains in resource shares, recouping some of its 1.5 percent losses on Wednesday.
Japan's Nikkei rose 0.6 per cent from Wednesday's three-week lows.
Singapore's Straits Times Index was up 0.23 per cent to 2,834.11 as of 9:38 am.
On Wall Street, a sharp rise in oil prices boosted energy shares, helping the S&P 500 index to post a modest gain of 0.3 percent.
Oil jumped more than 3 per cent on Wednesday and extended gains in Asian trade on Thursday, arresting its almost constant fall since early June for now, after a larger-than-expected gasoline draw eased concerns about global supply glut.
Brent crude futures rose 1.0 per cent on Thursday to US$43.55 per barrel, extending its recovery from Monday's four-month low of US$41.41 while US crude futures gained 1.2 per cent to US$41.33 per barrel.
The US dollar bounced back a bit from Monday's five-week low against a basket of six major currencies as investors looked to Friday's payrolls data.
A report by a payrolls processor ADP showed on Wednesday US private employers added 179,000 jobs in July, a tad above market expectations and bolstering hopes that Friday's data could show moderate growth in the employment.
The dollar index stood at 95.544, having recovered from Monday's low of 95.003, though it is still far below a 4 1/2-month peak of 97.569 hit last week.
Soft second-quarter US GDP data and some other mixed data have dented the dollar as they reduced expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise rates this year.
The euro dipped to US$1.1149, slipping from 5-week high of US$1.1234 touched on Monday.
Against the yen, the dollar traded at 101.32 yen, not far from Monday's low of 100.68 yen.
Japanese government bonds, which suffered their worst sell-off in more than three years this week on worries the Bank of Japan may be running out of realistic easing options, remained under pressure.
The 10-year JGB yield rose 2 basis points to minus 0.070 per cent.