* Revived hopes for U.S. stimulus boosts morale
* Biden victory getting priced in to markets - analysts
* China shares, yuan jump after a week long holiday
* VIX futures fall to 3-week low
* Asian stock markets: https://tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4
TOKYO/NEW YORK, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Asian shares inched close
to 2-1/2-year highs on Friday as revived hopes for a U.S.
stimulus deal eclipsed weaker-than-expected jobs data, while
mainland Chinese markets jumped after a week-long holiday.
Investors are also increasingly expecting the Democrats to
take back the White House, and possibly the Senate as well, in
the Nov. 3 U.S. election, analysts said.
A widening lead for Democratic Presidential candidate Joe
Biden is seen as reducing the risk of a contested election and
opening the way for a big economic stimulus, helping to counter
investors' wariness about a Democrat pledge to hike corporate
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
rose 0.15%, inching closer to its Aug. 31 peak,
which was its highest level since March 2018. China's CSI300
index gained 1.68% after the Golden Week holidays.
Japan's Nikkei dipped 0.1% after hitting a 7
1/2-month high, while futures for the S&P 500 gained
"Markets are starting to assume a Biden victory," said Osamu
Takashima, chief FX strategist at Citigroup Global Markets
U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday said talks with
Congress had restarted on targeted fiscal relief, after calling
off negotiations earlier this week.
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi expressed
confidence about reaching an agreement on the amount of aid in
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 gained 0.80% and the
Nasdaq Composite added 0.5%.
The S&P 500 energy index led sector percentage
gains, rising 3.8% on the day, after a jump in oil prices due to
production shutdowns ahead of a storm in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico
and the possibility of supply cuts from Saudi Arabia and Norway.
Still, in a sign markets are pricing in a victory by Biden,
clean energy-related shares have outperformed in recent weeks.
The iShares Global Clean Energy ETF has gained 14%
so far this month, compared to 4% gains in the S&P 500 energy
"Biden seems to have a clear lead following the TV debate
and a coronavirus cluster in the White House, which has raised
questions about Trump's crisis management capabilities," said
Mutsumi Kagawa, chief global strategist at Rakuten Securities.
A new Reuters/Ipsos poll found Americans are steadily losing
confidence in Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic, with
his net approval on the issue that has dominated the U.S.
election hitting a record low.
The November contract of Volatility Index futures
dropped to 30.25, its lowest level in three weeks, another sign
of reduced worries about a contested election.
The 10-year U.S. Treasuries yield was up 8.5 basis points so
far this week to stand at 0.779%. It hit a
four-month high of 0.797% on Wednesday, but has slipped in part
due to weak economic data.
The number of jobless claims in the U.S. came in 20,000
higher than economists expected at 840,000, showing unemployment
in the world's largest economy remains historically high and a
recovery in the labor market is losing momentum.
Additionally, the World Health Organization reported a
record one-day increase in global coronavirus cases on Thursday,
led by a surge of infections in Europe.
In the currency market, the dollar was on defensive against
most other currencies.
The euro firmed slightly to $1.1771 while the dollar
slipped 0.17% to 105.85 yen.
The biggest mover was the yuan, which gained more than 1% in
its first onshore trade in a week, hitting a 1 1/2-year high of
6.7165 per dollar.
Oil prices were little changed on Friday after gains the
previous day on output shutdowns and possible supply cuts.
Brent crude stood flat at $43.34 per barrel,
following Thursday's 3.2% gains. U.S. West Texas Intermediate
(WTI) crude was little changed at $41.21 after having
added $1.24 cents, or 3.1% on Thursday.
(Reporting by Imani Moise and Hideyuki Sano; editing by Richard