* Concern about Greek developments keeps risk appetite in check
* Spreadbetters see slightly softer opening for European bourses
* Oil continues rebound, which helped fuel Wall St gains
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Feb 6 (Reuters) - Asian shares edged higher on Friday and oil prices continued to rebound, but investors remained wary ahead of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for January later in the session.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up about 0.1 percent, on track for a weekly gain of more than 1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei stock average ended up 0.8 percent but marked a slight weekly loss, after shedding 1 percent on Thursday.
Financial spreadbetters expected a modestly weaker start to European trading, with Britain’s FTSE 100 seen opening 14 to 16 points lower, or down 0.2 percent; Germany’s DAX expected to open 18 to 19 points lower, or down 0.2 percent; and France’s CAC 40 estimated to open 11 to 13 points lower, or down 0.3 percent.
“European equities are set to drift lower as traders prepare for today’s U.S. jobs number,” Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads, said in a note.
“Traders will be hoping for a Goldilocks number just above 200k, showing that the U.S. economy is ticking over nicely, but not roaring ahead, as to invoke the Fed to start tightening,” he said.
Economists polled by Reuters expected U.S. employers to have taken on 234,000 workers in January, below December’s increase of 252,000. The jobless rate was expected to remain at a 6-1/2-year low of 5.6 percent, while average hourly earnings were forecast to show a rise of 0.3 percent, following the previous month’s fall of 0.2 percent.
“The main focus for the market is whether earnings bounce back as expected, after last month’s surprise drop,” said Ayako Sera, market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank in Tokyo.
“Another market focus now is Greece, which is a situation that will take time to develop. It might be difficult for stocks to rise too much in the meantime,” she added.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras pledged on Thursday to “put an end once and for all” to the European Union’s austerity policies and to bargain hard for a new deal for Greece, after the European Central Bank decided to stop accepting Greek bonds as collateral to raise cash.
Greece’s new leftist finance minister clashed openly with his powerful German counterpart on Thursday as Athens’ borrowing costs leapt and bank shares plunged. The ECB’s decision heightened fears about Greece’s financial system and the possibility that the country might leave the euro zone.
But Wall Street managed to put worries about Greece on the back burner on Thursday. Major indexes all ended with gains of 1 percent or more, while a rise in U.S. Treasury yields underpinned the U.S. dollar.
Mixed U.S. data on Thursday on jobless claims, productivity and the trade balance gave investors few clues on the overall growth outlook and the timing of the U.S. Federal Reserve’s move to raise interest rates, which some believe could be as early as this summer.
Callum Henderson, global head of FX research for Standard Chartered Bank in Singapore, said Standard Chartered’s baseline expectation is that U.S. non-farm payrolls will increase by around 260,000.
The market could show a sharp reaction if the increase in non-farm payrolls turns out to be either less than 200,000, or more than 300,000, Henderson said, adding that such results could lead to “quite a bit of volatility”.
The dollar edged down about 0.2 percent against the yen to 117.25. The euro inched down 0.1 percent against the dollar on the day to $1.1463, after sharp rises overnight on speculation the Swiss central bank was buying euros to weaken the franc.
The Swiss government warned on Thursday that a soaring franc meant economic growth would be weaker than expected.
Brent crude futures soared about 2.1 percent to $57.78 a barrel, while U.S. crude added about 2.6 percent to $51.77 a barrel after surging more than 4 percent in the previous session, as an escalating conflict in Libya and optimism about oil demand after China’s central bank easing helped the market rebound.
The People’s Bank of China cut banks’ reserve requirement ratios by 50 basis points on Wednesday, freeing up an estimated 600 billion yuan ($96 billion) into the money supply.
On Sunday, China will release economic data, expected to show a dip in exports, a Reuters poll showed. (Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Singapore; Editing by Eric Meijer, Alan Raybould and Clarence Fernandez)