By TOBY STERLINGAP Business Writer
AMSTERDAM (AP) - Asian stocks rose Thursday though European markets vacillated between losses and gains as investors awaited comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and U.S. jobs data.
The ECB kept its key lending rate for banks unchanged at 0.5 percent, but markets will be parsing Draghi's comments about the future at his press conference, as Europe is beginning to show signs of recovery.
Observers believe "Draghi will reiterate his dovish forward guidance," said Rabobank currency analyst Jane Foley in a note. "Insofar as the eurozone still has a long way to go before shrugging off the mantle of slow growth and crisis, the ECB is likely to attempt to push back against the recent move higher" in interest rates on government bonds.
Rising rates in Europe were one cause of market volatility, as German 10-year bond yields passed 2 percent briefly for the first time since March 2012.
Shortly before Draghi began speaking, Germany's DAX was up 0.1 percent to 8,202.40 and France's CAC-40 up 0.2 percent at 3,989.47. Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.3 percent to 6,495.46
Meanwhile, most Asian stocks benefited from Wednesday's strong close in the U.S.: a Federal Reserve survey showed moderate economic growth in the summer months and automakers put out their best sales data in six years.
Later Thursday, the ADP Research Institute is due to release estimates of private sector job growth in the U.S.
"We are expecting the Dow to open unchanged at 14,930, as dealers sit on their hands until the ADP and jobless claims reports at lunchtime," said IG market analyst David Madden.
S&P 500 futures were down marginally to 1,652.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index swung between losses and gains before closing 0.1 percent higher at 14,064.82 after the Bank of Japan said that the world's No. 3 economy was "recovering moderately." The central bank's policy board also said the bank's monetary easing policies would be maintained for the time being.
India's Sensex benchmark surged 1.7 percent a day after the country's new central bank head, Raghuram Rajan, announced a series of measures aimed at shoring up the rupee currency and strengthening the banking system.
Among new measures Rajan promised was one to allow existing banks to open new domestic branches without Reserve Bank of India permission. Rajan also said long-awaited new banking licenses would be issued by January. Shares of State Bank of India jumped 8 percent in Mumbai. Axis Bank Ltd. surged more than 15 percent.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 1.2 percent to 22,597.97. South Korea's Kospi advanced 1 percent to 1,951.65. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Thailand. Mainland Chinese shares were mixed. The Philippines and Indonesia fell. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.4 percent to close at 5,142.50.
Investors were also looking ahead to Friday, when the U.S. jobs report for August will be released. Economists expect that the U.S. created 177,000 jobs last month and that the unemployment rate held steady at 7.4 percent, according to financial data provider FactSet.
Friday's jobs report is the last major piece of economic data the Federal Reserve will get to see before it decides whether or not to pull back on its massive bond-buying program. That program has kept interest rates abnormally low and supported stock markets. While most investors believe the Fed will begin to pull back, the question has become when and how much.
"The economy seems to be recovering. I think the crucial thing will be the jobs numbers on Friday," said Andrew Sullivan, trader at Kim Eng Securities in Hong Kong.
Benchmark crude for October delivery was up 52 cents at $107.75 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It has been supported in recent weeks by concerns over a possible U.S. military strike against Syria, which could further destabilize the wider region, a big producer of crude.
In currencies, the euro rose fractionally to $1.3203 from $1.3199 late Tuesday. The dollar rose to 99.95 yen from 99.76 yen, after earlier breaking the 100 yen barrier.
Pamela Sampson contributed to this story from Bangkok.
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