Chinese stocks surged on Thursday after a week-long break as they played catch-up with a global rally, while most regional markets retreated with Japanese equities hitting the skids on weak data.
Following Asia's mixed performance, spread-betters forecast a flat to modestly higher open for Britain's FTSE .FTSE, Germany's DAX .GDAXI and France's CAC .FCHI.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS lost 0.5 percent. The index was on track to snap a six-day winning streak that took it to a 1-1/2 month peak this week, propelled by a global surge in risk appetite as expectations of the Federal Reserve hiking interest rates this year ebbed.
Japan's Nikkei .N225 dropped 0.9 percent after weak Japanese machinery orders and a stronger yen soured sentiment. Hong Kong's Hang Seng .HSI fell 0.8 percent, South Korea's Kospi .KS11 shed 0.2 percent while Australian shares gained 0.2 percent .
Chinese stock markets, which have been hit by wild swings in recent months due to growth and policy worries, rallied after re-opening following an extended break since the end of September. Shanghai stocks .SSEC rose 3.6 percent.
"Chinese shares got a boost from the global market, especially the U.S. market," said Xiao Shijun, an analyst at Guodu Securities in Beijing.
Overnight on Wall Street, the S&P 500 .SPX soared to a three-week high thanks to a bounce in biotechnology companies. The index has gained 2.3 percent so far this week. [.N]
The Fed opted not to hike rates in September in the wake of cooling global growth and fears of a deepening slowdown in China. Last week's soft U.S. non-farm employment report prompted markets to scale back expectations that the Fed would hike rates later this year.
Investors will have an opportunity to gauge the thinking of U.S. central bank officials when the minutes of the Fed's September meeting, at which it opted not to hike rates, are released later in the day.
St. Louis Fed President James Bullard, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota and San Francisco Fed President John Williams will also speak later on Thursday.
The dollar has wobbled since the weak U.S. jobs data lessened the prospects of a near-term Fed rate hike. It was on track to post its third straight day of losses against the yen, which received a fresh lift on Wednesday after the Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady.