* China’s official PMI shows manufacturing sector barely grew
* Dollar claws back losses after DXY’s worst month in 4 years
* Many Asian, European markets closed for Labour Day and May Day
* Crude oil futures mark best month in six years in April
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, May 1 (Reuters) - An index of Asian shares recovered from session lows but struggled to stay positive on Friday after weak corporate earnings dented Wall Street, while the dollar clawed back some losses after suffering its worst monthly performance in four years against a basket of six major currencies.
Many major European stock markets, including Germany, France, Italy and Spain, will be shut on Friday for May Day. London’s stock market will be open, and the FTSE100 is “expected to open slightly lower after Chinese manufacturing for April came in pretty much in line with expectations,” Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note.
China’s official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for April showed its manufacturing sector barely grew last month.
The reading of 50.1 was barely above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction, but was slightly better than a consensus expectation for a reading of 50, as activity in the world’s second-largest economy continues to cool.
“Due to active factors in both domestic and international markets as well as rising commodities prices, companies are prudently optimistic for economic growth in the future,” Zhao Qinghe, an official of the bureau said in a statement accompanying the report.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan turned slightly positive in afternoon trade with activity subdued. Several countries in the region were closed for Labour Day.
On Wall Street on Thursday, the three major stock indexes posted modest gains for the month of April, but ended the session with losses over 1 percent after weak earnings reports.
Upbeat U.S. economic data also revived expectations that U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers will consider raising interest rates, after a drop in U.S. jobless claims, a rise in consumer spending, wage gains and a jump in Midwest business activity suggested the economy is showing signs of recovery.
“Our view remains that September is a more likely time for the first rate hike, but we expect several on the committee to argue for a rate hike in June,” strategists at Barclays wrote in a note to clients.
Japan’s Nikkei stock index ended slightly higher after earlier touching a one-month low, and marking its biggest loss in four months in the previous session. Japanese markets will be shut through May 6 for public holidays.
A spate of Japanese economic data released before the market open showed consumer inflation rose slight more than forecast, while the jobless rate dropped. Household spending fell on year but rose from the previous month. The data came a day after the Bank of Japan held monetary policy steady as expected.
Against the Japanese currency, the dollar was up about 0.3 percent at 119.71 yen, pulling well away from an overnight low of 118.50 yen.
The euro edged down on the day to $1.1216, after scaling a two-month peak of $1.1267 on Thursday.
Underpinning the single currency, Greece made its biggest concessions yet in talks with lenders to avert bankruptcy.
That helped lift German Bund yields on Thursday with the benchmark 10-year yield reaching 0.386 percent, adding some 20 basis points in two days and further burnishing the euro’s appeal.
The dollar index added about 0.3 percent to 94.847, after skidding roughly 3.7 percent in April and touching a more than two-month low of 94.399 on the final day of the month.
In commodities trading, crude oil prices eked out gains after logging their best monthly gains in six years in April, helped by a weaker dollar and bets that a supply glut would ease.
Brent crude was slightly up on the day at $66.80 a barrel, after reaching a 2015 peak of $66.93 and adding 21 percent in April. U.S. crude inched up about 0.2 percent to $59.72, after hitting a 2015 high of $59.85 in post-settlement trading and gaining 25 percent for last month.
Additional reporting by Judy Hua and Pete Sweeney in Beijing; Editing by Eric Meijer and Simon Cameron-Moore