Asian shares, dollar steady, Nikkei rallies

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The Dow Jones Industrial Average .DJI rose 102.8 points, or 0.41 percent, to 25,385.8, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 3.58 points, or 0.13 percent, to 2,751.29 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC added 6.19 points, or 0.09 percent, to 7,163.58.

Investors are keeping tabs on talks between North and South Korea, the first in more than two years that have fuelled hopes relations could be thawing. The last time the index led off a year with more consecutive gains was in 2010, when it had six. Samsung's shares slumped 1.9 per cent.

The bellwether index added 0.57%, or 135.46 points, to end at 23 849.99 while the broader Topix index was up 0.48%, or 8.95 points, at 1 889.29.

CURRENCIES: The euro slipped 0.3 percent to $1.1930 while the dollar fell 0.5 percent to 112.52 yen.

"We don't necessarily see this as a signal of impending policy change, but investors are very sensitive to the overall monetary policy backdrop, especially out of the major central banks", said John Briggs, head of Americas strategy at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut.

"Major central banks around the world have begun to normalize policy, and the BOJ's adjustments today reminded the market that someday it will, too", said Ayako Sera, senior market economist at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust.

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The euro was steady at $1.1967, not far from its almost four-month high of $1.2089 set on Thursday.

"Broadly, viewed in context, it was still a reasonably strong labor market", said Bill Northey, chief investment officer at the private client group of U.S. Bank in Helena, Montana.

E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 edged up 0.1 percent while spreadbetters pointed to opening gains for Europe.

US stock investors remain upbeat about fourth-quarter earnings season, which begins on Friday with results from JPMorgan Chase (JPM.N), with the focus expected to be on any comments related to the just-approved USA tax overhaul that includes hefty corporate tax cuts.

USA crude oil prices firmed to their highest levels since May 2015, as political concerns in some OPEC nations offset projections for higher United States oil production.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 42 cents to $62.11 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange while Brent crude, the worldwide standard, gained 35 cents to $68.13 per barrel.