Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Report

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday as investors awaited the release of U.S. jobs data for clues about the Federal Reserve’s timelines for asset purchase tapering and interest rate hikes.

China’s Shanghai Composite Index ended down 15.31 points, or 0.4 percent, at 3,581.73 after the latest survey from Caixin revealed that the services sector in China dropped into contraction territory in August with a services PMI score of 46.7, down sharply from 54.9 in July.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index dropped 188.44 points, or 0.7 percent, to 25,901.99 amid profit taking after four consecutive sessions of gains.

The private sector in Hong Kong expanded at a faster pace in August, the latest survey from Markit Economics showed, with a PMI score of 53.3, up from 51.3 in July.

Japanese shares rallied after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga indicated he would step down as prime minister later this month. Investors pinned hopes that a new government will implement new economic measures to alleviate the prolonged impact of the covid-19 pandemic.

Investors shrugged off the latest survey from Jibun Bank showing that the services sector in Japan contracted at a faster pace in August.

The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 584.60 points, or 2.1 percent, to 29,128.11, while the broader Topix closed 1.6 percent higher at 2,015.45.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group rose 0.7 percent and Uniqlo operator Fast Retailing climbed 2 percent. Screen Holdings, Tokyo Electron and Advantest gained 2-3 percent in the tech space.

Australian markets advanced, boosted by mining and energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index climbed 37.20 points, or half a percent, to 7,522.90 despite disappointing retail spending and service sector data. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 42.90 points, or 0.6 percent, at 7,826.70.

Mining giant BHP gained about 1 percent after tumbling nearly 7 percent the previous day on going ex-dividend. Rio Tinto rallied 2.5 percent, OZ Minerals advanced 1.6 percent and Orocobre soared 7 percent after a rise in Chinese iron ore futures. Origin Energy and Beach Energy rose about 1 percent, underpinned by a rise in oil prices.

Seoul stocks rebounded as foreign investors scooped up local shares ahead of the release of U.S. jobs data expected to show another strong month for hiring. The benchmark Kospi advanced 25.21 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,201.06.

Drug maker SK Bioscience soared 9.1 percent on reports it will be included in the Korea Exchange’s K-New Deal Index next week. LG Electronics jumped 10 percent on reports that U.S. tech giant Apple could work with South Korean companies to launch “Apple Car” in 2024.

New Zealand shares fluctuated before finishing on a flat note. The benchmark NZX 50 Index finished marginally higher at 13,288.87, extending gains for the sixth day running. SKY Network Television jumped 4.6 percent to extend recent gains after announcing a share consolidation.

U.S. stocks eked out modest gains overnight as jobless claims and trade balance figures showed that the economic recovery remains on track.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 rose 0.3 percent to reach new record closing highs, while the Dow gained 0.4 percent.

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