Asian shares higher in early trade, dollar inches lower

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange
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Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange May 23, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

By Lisa Twaronite

New York (Reuters) - Asian shares rose in early trading on Friday, buoyed by another record close on Wall Street, while the dollar groaned under the pressure of slumping U.S. yields.

The S&P 500 index .SPX posted its third record closing high in four sessions, as investors shrugged off the first quarterly contraction of the U.S. economy in three years and focused on signs of a strengthening labour market.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS added about 0.2 percent, on track for a modest weekly rise, after hitting one-year highs for the fifth time in the last six sessions. Japan's Nikkei stock average .N225 edged up 0.1 percent.

U.S. first-quarter gross domestic product fell a steeper-than-forecast 1 percent, but the drop was not enough to quash expectations of a second-quarter recovery. A decline in weekly jobless claims underscored a strengthening labour market.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasuries US10YT=RR last traded at 2.469 percent, up from the U.S. close of 2.447 percent but still not far from its lowest levels since last June, touched this week, on fading expectations that the Federal Reserve will begin raising U.S. rates any time soon.

"10-year yields in the U.S., Europe and Japan are near cyclical lows, on growing evidence of central banks' willingness to keep rates low for long, led by a dovish Fed and speculations on ECB easing next week," strategists at Barclays said in a note to clients.

Reuters reported earlier this month that the ECB is preparing a package of policy options for its June 5 meeting that includes cuts in all its interest rates.

The euro was steady at $1.3601 EUR= but not far from Thursday's three-month low of $1.3586.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, eased slightly to 80.477 .DXY.

The yen was slightly higher against the dollar, which bought 101.73 JPY=, down about 0.1 percent.

Data released early on Friday showed Japan's core consumer prices jumped 3.2 percent in April from a year earlier, the fastest gain since February 1991 after a hike to Japan's national sales tax led to price increases.

Spot gold XAU= was steady at $1,255.66 an ounce after dropping to its lowest level since early February in the previous session.


(Editing by Chris Gallagher))
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