Asia shares broadly higher ahead of US jobs report

Asia shares broadly higher ahead of US jobs report

TOKYO - Asian stock markets were broadly higher Friday, but some leading indexes surrendered gains as investors eyed a US jobs report that will supply more clues about the strength of the world's top economy.

Tokyo's benchmark Nikkei index rose 87.20 points, or 0.45 per cent, to end at 19,379.19, and Hong Kong was 1.19 per cent higher in late-afternoon trade while Shanghai finished 2.28 per cent stronger, clawing back steep losses sustained earlier in the week.

But Sydney stocks drifted by the close, easing 11.1 points, or 0.20 per cent, to 5,634.6, while South Korean shares dropped 0.26 per cent due to rising economic uncertainties with the benchmark KOSPI down 5.48 points to 2,085.52.

If US payrolls rebound "we'll see US long-term (bond) yields spike and the yen weaken, which will be positive for Japanese shares", said Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Nomura Holdings.

"But if the data is worse than expected, we could see global stocks suffer a deeper correction as the market shifts toward a deflationary story." Chinese shares benefited from hopes for policies to boost the economy after China posted weaker-than-expected trade data, dealers said.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index jumped 93.71 points to 4,205.92 on turnover of 559.6 billion yuan ($91.5 billion). The index lost 5.31 per cent over the week.

The Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China's second exchange, surged 4.17 per cent, or 90.87 points, to 2,272.17 on turnover of 512.9 billion yuan. It gained 0.19 per cent for the week.

Markets are gearing up for the US Labor Department's jobs report Friday to gauge whether the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to begin raising ultra-low interest rates.

Investors await US cue

US employers likely added 228,000 workers to non-farm payrolls last month, after a 126,000 increase in March, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.

A positive reading would renew expectations for a rate hike later this year, after a batch of tepid US data earlier this week, including a disappointing employment report from payroll firm ADP.

"There's very little to drive the markets ahead of the macro data," said Andrew Sullivan, head of sales trading at Haitong International Securities Group in Hong Kong.

"We may see some caution into the close. The wage levels will probably be more closely watched for signs of inflation." On Wall Street, US stocks pushed higher Thursday as oil prices cooled and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba soared on strong sales.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.46 per cent, the S&P 500 gained 0.38 per cent, while the Nasdaq jumped 0.53 per cent.

Oil prices dived Thursday a day after hitting 2015 highs as worries about global oversupply re-emerged with traders scrutinising a mixed US inventories report.

On Friday they extended those sharp losses - West Texas Intermediate for June delivery eased 31 cents to $58.63, while Brent crude for June declined 18 cents to $65.36 in afternoon trade.

The British pound jumped as election results showed Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives headed for victory, while the dollar won support on hopes for a solid US jobs report.

In Tokyo afternoon trade, sterling fetched $1.5500 against $1.5262 in New York, while the euro sank to 0.7236 pounds from 0.7382 pounds.

In other currency trading, the dollar rose to 119.87 yen, from 119.75 yen in New York. The euro slipped to $1.1224 and 134.56 yen on Friday, down from $1.1266 and 134.91 yen in US trade.

Gold fetched $1,188.00, up from $1,183.36 late Thursday.

In other markets:

- Wellington's benchmark NZX 50 index edged up 6.00 points, or 0.10 per cent, to 5,735.36 in mixed trading. Contact Energy rose 0.72 per cent to NZ$5.56, while Air New Zealand slipped 0.36 per cent to NZ$2.78.

- Taiwan's weighted index fell 12.11 points, or 0.12 per cent, to 9,692.0. Acer fell 1.28 per cent to Tw$19.2 while HTC was 0.83 per cent lower at Tw$119.0.

- Philippine shares closed 53.06 points, or 0.68 per cent lower, to 7,763.21. Universal Robina was down 4.98 per cent to 202.40 pesos, Metrobank fell 0.53 per cent to 93.05 pesos, while Ayala Land lost 0.74 per cent to 40.10 pesos.

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