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Asia stocks slip ahead of jobs, ECB boosts Europe

HONG KONG--European stocks edged higher a day after the European Central Bank (ECB) unveiled new measures to boost economic growth but other benchmarks struggled Friday as investors awaited the U.S. jobs report for May.

Global market reaction to the ECB measures, which included interest rate cuts and a new liquidity program for banks, was short-lived as investors focused on the jobs data.

In early European trading, Germany's DAX rose 0.2 percent to 9,969.12 and France's CAC 40 gained 0.1 percent to 4,555.33. Britain's FTSE 100 advanced 0.3 percent to 9,835.02.

U.S. stocks were poised to open higher. Dow futures edged up 0.2 percent to 16,487.00 and S&P 500 futures were up less than 0.1 percent to 1,939.70.

“Today, the U.S jobs report will garner most focus while investors continue to digest the ECB decision,” strategists at Credit Agricole CIB said in a report.

The U.S. nonfarm payrolls report due Friday will likely set the tone for markets for the following week as traders assess whether it changes the Federal Reserve's current policy stance of not rushing to raise interest rates.

Analysts forecast that U.S. employers added 220,000 jobs last month after adding 288,000 in April. A fourth straight 200,000-plus monthly job gain would add to evidence that the job market in the world's biggest economy is strengthening.

The monthly U.S. jobs report “at present seems to be one of the few economic releases that is still able to make significant waves in markets,” said Michael Every, head of Asia financial markets research at Rabobank.

Markets may cheer even if Friday's number comes in lower than expected, because it would raise the prospect of policymakers delaying their scaling back of monetary stimulus, Every said.

“Equities would no doubt also be happy with the prospect of an even longer period of monetary policy largesse,” he said.

Asian shares were mixed on Thursday.

Tokyo pared most morning gains to end flat, edging up 11.41 points to 15,079.37, while Seoul fell 0.65 percent, or 13.08 points, to 1,995.48 and Sydney slid 0.15 percent, or 7.93 points, to close at 5,436.90.

Shanghai gained 0.79 percent, or 16.05 points, to 2,040.88 and Hong Kong slipped 0.18 percent, or 42.05 points, to 23,109.66.

U.S. shares ticked up on Wednesday after broadly upbeat data. The Institute for Supply Management said activity in the services sector, accounting for 80 percent of the U.S. economy, surged in May.

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