Asian shares edge up with euro under pressure as ECB decision looms, STI down 0.2%

Pedestrians walking past a share prices board of the Nikkei 225 at the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Nov 16, 2015.
Pedestrians walking past a share prices board of the Nikkei 225 at the Tokyo Stock Exchange on Nov 16, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Asian shares advanced on Thursday (Nov 26), while the euro remained under pressure on growing bets that the European Central Bank will roll out more stimulus soon even as the US Federal Reserve looks set to raise interest rates.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.6 per cent, after Wall Street put in a nearly flat performance ahead of the US Thanksgiving holiday.

US markets will be closed on Thursday and most of Friday afternoon.

Japan's Nikkei added 0.6 per cent while Singapore's Straits Times Index was down 0.21 per cent at 2,885.37 as of 11:34 am.

The Shanghai Composite index was little changed, while shares in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea all climbed about 1 per cent.

The euro recovered to US$1.0617 following a drop to a more than seven-month low of US$1.0565 overnight, after euro zone central bank officials told Reuters that they are considering options such as staggering charges on banks hoarding cash and buying more debt ahead of next week's ECB meeting.

The common currency also touched a seven-month low against the yen overnight, falling to 129.77 before edging back to 130.16.

"The short positioning on the euro is a bit extended here in part because everyone expects the ECB to take some measures next week to ease monetary policy in the euro area further," said Thierry Wizman, global interest rates and currencies strategist at Macquarie Ltd in New York.

The euro's renewed weakness and a spate of US economic data reinforced views that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next month for the first time in nearly a decade boosted the US dollar.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six other major currencies, scaled an 8-1/2-month high of 100.170 overnight. It last stood at 99.777.

Against the yen, the dollar was little changed at 122.60 .

Better-than-forecast US durable goods data and jobless claims offset somewhat weaker-than-expected readings on consumer inflation and sentiment, and gave investors no reason to believe the Fed would not raise rates.

"We see very little to upset or upend the December rate hike," said Dan Heckman, senior fixed income strategist at U.S. Bank Wealth Management in Kansas City, Missouri.

The dollar's strength kept gold close to its lowest in nearly six years. Spot gold held steady at US$1,072 an ounce after dropping 0.4 per cent on Wednesday.

US crude oil futures edged up in light trading, after erasing early losses on Wednesday on data showing a smaller-than-expected supply build in the US and a drop in the number of US rigs actively drilling for oil.

US crude advanced about 0.2 per cent to US$43.14 a barrel. Brent edged up about 0.1 per cent to US$46.23.