Asian Shares Mixed As Caution Grips Markets Ahead Of US Jobs Data

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday as investors awaited a key U.S. jobs report due later in the day that could influence Federal Reserve plans for more interest rate hikes to curb record-high inflation.

The dollar held at a two-decade high, and gold dipped below $1,700 per ounce, while oil prices climbed in Asian trade, paring a hefty weekly decline ahead of next week’s OPEC+ meeting.

China’s Shanghai Composite index fluctuated before finishing marginally higher at 3,186.48. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index dropped 0.74 percent to 19,452.09 amid new lockdowns in China triggered by COVID-19 scares.

Chengdu, the sixth-largest city in the People’s Republic, with a population of 21 million entered full lockdown yesterday following new virus outbreaks.

Japanese stocks closed lower, with a weakening yen helping limit the downside to some extent. The Nikkei average ended marginally lower at 27,650.84 and posted a 3.4 percent weekly decline. The broader Topix index slipped 0.27 percent to 1,930.17.

Gaming company Nexon tumbled 3.1 percent after reporting quarterly earnings. Department store operators J.Front Retailing and Isetan Mitsukoshi both gained around 2 percent.

Seoul stocks fell for a second day running as the latest price data showed inflation in the country would stay elevated for a while. The Kospi average ended 0.26 percent lower at 2,409.41 after a choppy trading.

Samsung Electronics fell 1.5 percent and SK Hynix shed 0.8 percent after data showed chip shipments dropped 7.8 percent year-on-year in August – marking the first on-year drop in 26 months. Chemical firm LG Chem and steelmaker POSCO lost 2-3 percent.

Australian markets finished modestly lower ahead of RBA’ s interest-rate decision due next week. Lower iron ore and metal prices weighed on the mining sector, with BHP, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group all falling more than 2 percent.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.25 percent lower at 6,828.70 and fell 3.9 percent for the week. The broader All Ordinaries index closed 0.33 percent lower at 7,056.30.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 index rose 0.16 percent to 11,628.25 as A2 Milk extended recent gains after reporting positive annual results earlier this week. Shares rose 1.7 percent for the day, taking the weekly gain to 18 percent.

U.S. stocks reversed course before ending mixed overnight, as data showed manufacturing grew steadily in August and the number of Americans filing for unemployment insurance unexpectedly dropped last week.

The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite ended 0.3 percent lower following new restrictions on exports of cutting-edge chips from Nvidia to China. The Dow rose half a percent and the S&P 500 edged up 0.3 percent.

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