Financial cycles: An electronic board displays stock information at the Australian Securities Exchange, operated by the ASX in Sydney, Australia, on February 6 2018.
Financial cycles: An electronic board displays stock information at the Australian Securities Exchange, operated by the ASX in Sydney, Australia, on February 6 2018.
Image: BLOOMBERG

Tokyo — Asia stocks gained on Friday after Wall Street ended volatile trade in the green, adding to the big advances of the previous session, although lingering investor jitters helped support safe-haven currencies such as the yen.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 percent. It has fallen almost 4% so far in December.

The Shanghai Composite Index edged up 0.3%.

Australian stocks added 0.6% and South Korea's KOSPI climbed 0.5%. Japan's Nikkei bucked the trend and slipped 0.5%, losing some steam after surging nearly 4% the previous session.

US stocks roared back to end in positive territory on Thursday, with the Dow adding 1.14%, after suffering steep losses for much of the session.

The gains come a day after Wall Street indexes posted their biggest daily percentage increases in nearly a decade following a sharp plunge at the week's start.

However, all three US major indexes remain down more than 9% for December following losses earlier in the month, when factors including concerns over the US-China trade war, slowing global growth and wariness towards the Federal Reserve's tightening cycle took a heavy toll.

"Selling pressure on U.S. equities is beginning to dissipate, but the VIX index is still around 29 with investor risk sentiment still recovering. A renewed market slide remains a risk," said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.

The CBOE Volatility Index rose midweek to 36, its highest level since early February. It has since pulled back below 30 but remains well above a recent low of 15 marked at the beginning of December.

Focus turned to the Fed's stance and whether the equity markets can sustain their recovery at the start of the new year.

"If Fed officials — notably chairman Jerome Powell and New York Fed Governor Williams — show a cautious stance towards further rate hikes given recent instability in the stocks markets, that would lead to a rise in US equities and Treasury yields, and a firmer dollar," said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief forex strategist at Mizuho Securities in Tokyo.

Fed chairman Powell is due to speak on January 4.

While stocks showed signs of recovery, lingering market volatility helped keep safe-haven currencies such as the yen and Swiss franc in demand.

The dollar extended overnight losses and was down 0.2% at ¥110.74. It was on track to lose more than 2% this month.

The greenback declined 0.25% to 0.9852 francs per dollar after slumping more than 0.8 percent the previous day. The U.S. currency has fallen 1.1 percent against its Swiss peer on the month.

The euro was a shade higher at $1.1447 after gaining 0.7 percent overnight. The common currency was headed for a 1 percent gain in December.

The 10-year US Treasury note yield was up 3 basis points at 2.773%, pulling back from a nine-month low of 2.720% brushed earlier in the week.

The yield had climbed to a seven-year peak of 3.26% in October as the debt market braced for potentially faster pace of Fed rate hikes in 2019.

Reuters