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By Hideyuki Sano
TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian stocks resumed their ascent on Friday, supported by U. S. earnings optimism and a rise in oil prices while the euro edged higher as the European Central Bank signalled an end to its massive stimulus.
Wall Street's three major stock indexes hit record highs with earnings for S&P 500 companies expected to have increased by 11.8 percent in the recently-ended quarter, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
MSCI's broadest gauge of the world's stock markets also hit a record high on Thursday, having risen in seven of the eight business days so far this year for a total increase of 3.3 percent.
China's currency regulator dismissed the report but said it is diversifying its foreign exchange reserves in order to safeguard their value.
The 10-year Treasuries yield stood at 2.550 percent, off Wednesday's ten-month high of 2.597 percent.
On the other hand, the benchmark German 10-year Bunds yield hit a five-month high of 0.532 percent after accounts of the ECB's December meeting showed it thinks it should revisit its communication stance in early 2018.
With the euro zone seeing its best growth in a decade, the ECB should gradually shift its stance to avoid a more disruptive move later and look at a broader revision of its policy guidance to reduce the focus on bond purchases and raise the emphasis on interest rates, they showed.
"I would imagine the ECB is dying to give it a try to end negative interest rates after September. If that doesn't go down well in markets, the bank will modify its message but it should want to at least test the water," said Yoshinori Shigemi, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.
The ECB has pledged to continue its bond purchase programme at least until September and investors expect any rate hike to take place next year.
The euro's overnight index swap rates have risen sharply this week as traders price in higher chance of a rate hike early next year.
The euro rose back above $1.2 and last traded at $1.2048, near its three-month high of $1.2089 touched last week.
On the other hand, the dollar was broadly weak after U. S. wholesale price dipped in December from November, reinforcing investors' expectations of a tame inflation.
Bitcoin flirted with this year's low, having fallen 11.1 percent on Thursday after the government in South Korea, a major source of digital currency demand, unveiled plans to ban cryptocurrency trading.
On the Bitstamp Exchange, it traded at $13,431, up 1.6 percent but not far from Thursday's low of $12,800, which was its lowest level since Dec. 31.
Brent crude futures were little changed for day at $69.28 a barrel after hitting $70.05 a barrel during the previous session, its highest level since November 2014.
(Editing by Sam Holmes)
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)