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    MORNING BELL: Asian shares edge up, U.S. jobs data in focus

    Asian stocks rose for the first time in six days, with industrial shares leading gains, as investors await the monthly U.S. jobs report for clues on monetary policy, and before many markets around the world close for holidays. Japan's Nikkei stock average opened higher and was up 0.6 percent after skidding to a three-week low in the previous session. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index advanced 0.4 percent to 146.53 as of 9:02 a.m. in Tokyo. The measure fell the past five days, led by declines among health-care and materials companies, after valuations on the regional gauge climbed to the highest level in five years. Markets including Hong Kong, Australia, Taiwan, New Zealand and most of Europe are closed Friday and Monday for Easter Holidays.

    On Wednesday, the ADP National Employment Report showed that U.S. private employers added 189,000 jobs last month, falling well short of economists' expectations for a rise of 225,000 jobs. The figure was the weakest since January 2014. Friday's non-farm payrolls are expected to show an increase of 245,000 jobs in March, following a gain of 290,000 in February, according to economists polled by Reuters. The greenback was down about 0.2 percent on the day at 119.55 yen, while the euro added about 0.1 percent, to $1.0768. The euro also got a lift from Wednesday's data showing manufacturing activity across the euro zone is accelerating.

    Gold prices eased in Asia on Thursday, with investors looking ahead to Friday's U.S. jobs report which comes out despite a public holiday. Overnight, gold futures soared on Wednesday, to over $1,200 an ounce, after the release of soft non-farming payroll figures, stoking fears of a bleaker than expected jobs outlook when the U.S. monthly employment report is released later this week.



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