TOKYO, RAW – Asian shares were little changed on Friday ahead of a raft of Chinese economic data, while world stocks on the whole flew at a record level, fuelled by strong US economic data that may herald a solid recovery ahead.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan were little changed while Japan’s Nikkei ticked up 0.2 per cent.

China will release a series of economic data later in the day, including its first-quarter GDP.

MSCI’s broadest gauge of world stocks stood flat after 0.89 per cent gains the previous day to a record high.

“US economic data released yesterday was all strong, confirming the US economy is firmly on a recovery track,” said Norihiro Fujito, chief investment strategist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.

Retail sales rebounded 9.8 per cent in March, the largest increase since May 2020, in a gain that pushed the level of sales 17.1 per cent above its pre-pandemic level to a record high.

The brightening economic prospects were underscored by other data, including first-time claims for unemployment benefits tumbling last week to the lowest level since March 2020.

Despite strong data, US bond yields dropped, in part driven by Japanese buying, as they have began a new financial year this month.

The 10-year US Treasuries yield dropped to 1.529 per cent, a five-week low, on Thursday and last stood at 1.566 per cent , off its 14-month high of 1.776 per cent set at the end of March.

“The market has already fully priced in an US economic recovery in the near term. And if the Federal Reserve will keep interest rates on hold for the next two to three years, no doubt the carry of US bonds would be very attractive compared with Japanese or euro zone bonds,” said Chotaro Morita, chief fixed income strategist at SMBC Nikko Securities.

The fall in long-term bond yields benefited stocks, and particularly tech shares, given the idea that their historically expensive valuations can be justified because investors would have no choice but to buy shares to make up for low returns from bonds.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 advanced 1.11 per cent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 1.31 per cent, nearing its record peak set in February.

In the currency market, lower US yields were a drag on the US dollar.

The euro stood at $US1.1965 ($A1.5440), having hit a six-week high of $US1.19935 ($A1.5476) overnight while the US currency slipped to a three-week low of 108.61 yen.

Oil prices held firm after hitting a four-week highs on Thursday following positive US economic data and higher demand forecasts from the International Energy Agency (IEA) and OPEC.

Brent futures stood flat at $US66.93 ($A86.37) per barrel, while US crude was also little changed at $US63.42 ($A81.84) per barrel, both on course for their first substantial weekly gains in six.