Asian shares edge up, dollar firm

Asian shares edge up, dollar firm

Singapore: Asian shares edged up marginally on Friday as investors waited for a speech by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke later in the day, while nervousness about the US economic outlook sent the dollar higher.

Stocks on Wall Street fell on Thursday as investors lowered their expectations that Bernanke, who is due to address central bankers at an annual symposium in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, will announce drastic measures to kickstart growth in the world’s top economy.

His speech last year laid the groundwork for the Fed’s $600 billion bond-buying program to revive the economy under the rubric “QE2" for the Fed’s second round of stimulus, or quantitative easing.

While investors have speculated Bernanke could signal a new monetary offensive in his talk, many analysts say he could well disappoint those looking for major measures, such as a QE3.

“The market is lacking upside potential as some doubt there will be another round of quantitative easing from the Fed," said Lee Suk-won, a market strategist at E-Trade Securities.

The Nikkei 225 index edged up 0.04%, while the broader MSCI Asia Pacific ex-Japan index also gained 0.1%.

The US dollar rose to 77.39 against the yen , up 0.7%, after a rise in US jobless claims and more volatility in euro zone debt market added to investor nervousness.

Brent crude edged up 0.15% to $110.88 per barrel, while gold fell 0.2% to $1,766.3.