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Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of US Jobs Data

by September 2, 2016 General
CANBERA (dpa-AFX) – Asian stocks closed mixed yet again on Friday, as investors maintained their cautious stance ahead of the highly anticipated U.S. jobs report later in the day. The oil price downturn, sluggish U.S. manufacturing data and the IMF’s warning that the global economy is in need of ‘forceful action’ to avoid ‘low-growth trap’ also kept investors nervous.

The jobs report is likely to show an increase of about 175,000 jobs in August while the jobless rate is expected to edge down to 4.8 percent from 4.9 percent. It is widely believed that another strong employment report after surprisingly strong job gains in June and July may put the Federal Reserve on track to raise short-term rates this year.

Chinese stocks eked out modest gains as property developers rebounded from losses in the previous session. The benchmark Shanghai Composite index inched up 4.05 points or 0.13 percent to 3,067.35 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was 0.45 percent higher at 23,266.70.

Japanese shares ended on a flat note after climbing to a three-month high the previous day. The Nikkei average slipped 1.16 points or 0.01 percent to 16,925.68, but ended the week up about 3.5 percent. The broader Topix index closed 0.25 percent higher at 1,340.76.

While Sumitomo Chemical, TDK and Asahi Glass fell around 2 percent, Kansai Electric Power, Dai-ichi Life Insurance, Chugai Pharmaceutical and J Front Retailing jumped 3-5 percent. Toshiba and Sony rose more than 1 percent each as the U.S. dollar traded a tad higher against the yen.

Toyota Motor slipped 0.3 percent and Honda Motor shed 0.6 percent after reporting weak U.S. sales for August. Arena operator Tokyo Dome soared 5.1 percent on a Nikkei report that it likely earned a group operating profit of about 6.5 billion yen ($62.5 million) in the February-July half-year period.

Australian shares fell for a third day as investors moved to the sidelines ahead of U.S. jobs data tonight and the G20 meeting in China this weekend. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 42.80 points or 0.79 percent to 5,372.80 and the broader All Ordinaries index slipped 40.60 points or 0.74 percent to 5,470.60.

The big four banks fell between 0.8 percent and 1.1 percent. Beach Energy and Woodside Petroleum lost about 1 percent each after oil futures closed down more than 3 percent Thursday to hit another three-week low. TPG Telecom dropped 1.5 percent after it submitted a formal bid for Singapore’s fourth mobile phone license.

Mining giant BHP Billiton closed marginally higher and rival Rio Tinto advanced 0.9 percent after two days of losses. Gold miners Northern Star Resources, Newcrest, Regis Resources and Evolution Mining rallied 2-5 percent after gold rebounded from two-month lows to finish higher overnight.

Seoul shares ticked higher on buying by foreign investors after official data showed the country’s gross domestic product grew at a faster-than-expected pace in the second quarter of 2016 on increased local demand and exports. The Kospi average rose 5.59 points or 0.28 percent to 2,038.31.

New Zealand shares rose as the solid earnings season drew to a close. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 2.92 points or 0.04 percent to 7,426.11, with Metro Performance Glass, Ebos Group and OceanaGold climbing 3-5 percent.

Nuplex Industries rallied 1.9 percent after confirming its takeover by Allnex Belguim SA had received the green light from the European Commission.

A strong magnitude-7.1 earthquake rattled the coast of New Zealand’s North Island on Friday morning, but no major damage or injuries were reported.

Elsewhere, benchmark indexes in India, Indonesia and Malaysia were up between 0.1 percent and 0.4 percent while Singapore’s Straits Times index was declining 0.7 percent and the Taiwan Weighted dropped 0.2 percent.

U.S. stocks recovered from earlier losses to end mostly higher overnight, as gains in technology stocks helped investors shrug off sluggish manufacturing data and a decline in oil prices.

The Dow inched up 0.1 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq rose 0.3 percent while the S&P 500 closed flat with a negative bias.

Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX