Asian Shares Mixed Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Report

Asian stocks ended mixed on Thursday as caution prevailed ahead of the release of the U.S Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report on Friday, which could shed more light on the Federal Reserve’s tapering strategy.

U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said last week that the central bank is likely to start scaling back bond purchases this year depending upon the improvement in the labor market.

Chinese stocks rose notably after the People’s Bank of China said it would provide CNY300 billion ($46.41 billion) of low-cost funding to support small and medium-sized firms.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 29.94 points, or 0.8 percent, to 3,597.04, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged up 62.14 points, or 0.2 percent, to 26,090.43.

Japanese shares rose for the fourth straight day even as the country grappled with the unprecedented spread of the Delta variant of the coronavirus.

The Nikkei 225 Index rose 92.49 points, or 0.3 percent, to 28,543.51, while the broader Topix closed 0.1 percent higher at 1,983.57.

Semiconductor-related shares advanced, with Renesas Electronics climbing 3.8 percent and Tokyo Electron adding 1.2 percent.

Takeda Pharmaceutical fell over 1 percent after its Japanese distribution partner Moderna said tainted batches of its Covid-19 sent to Japan were contaminated with stainless steel particles. West Japan Railway plummeted 13.4 percent on equity dilution worries.

Australian markets ended lower after doctors warned that the country’s hospitals weren’t ready to cope with the government’s reopening plans. The downside was capped after data showed the nation’s trade surplus widened to a record in July.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index hit a two-week low before ending the session down 41.40 points, or 0.6 percent, at 7,485.70. The broader All Ordinaries Index slipped 29.20 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,783.80.

Mining heavyweight BHP slumped 6.9 percent on going ex-dividend. United Malt Group lost 6.1 percent after the firm said it would make a $22 million provision in its full-year result.

Seoul stocks fell sharply amid profit taking after four days of gains. Inflation concerns weighed after data showed the country’s consumer price inflation rose an annual 2.6 percent last month from a year earlier. The benchmark Kospi tumbled 31.17 points, or 1 percent, to 3,175.85.

KakaoBank plunged 7.8 percent on reports that the Korea Post offloaded the majority of its stake in the online lender. Tech heavyweights Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix fell over 1 percent.

New Zealand shares ended higher after spending much of the afternoon in negative territory. The benchmark NZX50 Index edged up 36.98 points, or 0.3 percent, to settle at 13,280.47.

Transport and logistics company Mainfreight fell 2 percent after a trading update from the company for the first 22 weeks of the current financial year.

U.S. stocks ended narrowly mixed overnight as disappointing private payrolls data supported the case for dovish monetary policy. U.S. factory activity grew in August but still battled logistics and price woes, another report showed.

The Dow slipped 0.1 percent and the S&P 500 ended flat, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.3 percent to hit a new record closing high.

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