Asian Stocks Mixed As Caution Sets In Before US Jobs Report

By RTT News, 
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(RTTNews.com) - Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday despite the Dow and S&P 500 scaling new heights overnight following the European Central Bank's announcement of a raft of measures meant to stave off deflation in the currency union. With markets awaiting jobs data from the United States later in the day and Chinese trade data on Sunday, investors showed little reaction to the ECB's latest easing measures.

Japanese shares ended largely unchanged after hitting a two-month high earlier in the day. The benchmark Nikkei average jumped to as high as 15,144.34 before erasing early gains to end marginally lower at 15,077.24. The broader Topix Index, meanwhile, rose 0.2 percent. KDDI Corp, SoftBank Corp and Nippon Telegraph fell over a percent each, while Komatsu, Kubota Corp and Mitsui Mining & Smelting rose 2-3 percent.

Sumco Corp., which makes silicon wafers, soared 11.3 percent on reports the company's plants are working at full capacity. Shares of Kyowa Hakko Kirin Co. rallied 2.8 percent after Barclays upgraded its rating on the stock. Sekisui House rose 2 percent in early trading before paring gains to end on a flat note.

Chinese shares retreated, with banks underperforming after China's banking regulator vowed to tighten supervision over cross-market products and shadow banking sector. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.54 percent to 2,029.96, snapping three weeks of gains. H

ong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 0.69 percent to 22,951 as investors waited for major Chinese reports on inflation, industrial output and retail sales due next week.

Australian shares rose as bargain hunters lapped up high-yielding banking stocks following the ECB's decision last night to cut lending rates and impose a negative interest rate on banks for their deposits. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index advanced half a percent to 5,464, snapping a three-day losing streak. The Australian market will be closed on Monday for the Queen's Birthday holiday.

While the big banks ended up between 0.9 percent and 1.3 percent, miners turned in a mixed performance. BHP Billiton edged up 0.1 percent and gold miner Newcrest added 1.7 percent, but Rio Tinto slid 0.4 percent and Fortescue Metals Group lost 2.8 percent. Oil Search rallied 2.7 percent after raising its 2014 production guidance on the back of the early start-up of its gas project in Papua New Guinea. Woodside Petroleum rose half a percent, Origin Energy added 0.8 percent and Santos advanced 1.2 percent.

On the economic front, the Australian construction sector continued to contract in May, although at a slower pace, according to a survey. The Australian Industry Group performance of construction index rose 0.8 points to 46.7 from the previous month. The sector has been in contraction for five straight months.

New Zealand shares gained ground, with Fletcher Building shares rallying over 3 percent to a two-week high after recent data showed house building activity grew at its fastest pace in almost 12 years in the first quarter. Meanwhile, figures from Quotable Value released today showed that New Zealand property values increased at the slowest annual pace in nine months in May as interest rates increased and bank lending restrictions weighed on sales volume growth,

The benchmark NZX-50 Index rose 0.44 percent to 5,182.44. Exporter Fisher & Paykel Healthcare rose 1.7 percent to an eight-year high, extending Thursday's 2 percent rally, while milk marketer A2 Milk Company climbed 2.7 percent and biotech firm Pacific Edge jumped 3.7 percent.

Elsewhere, India's Sensex was rising 0.8 percent on continued foreign fund inflows, Indonesian shares were little changed and Singapore's Straits Times Index was up half a percent, while the markets in Malaysia and Taiwan were subdued. The South Korean market was closed for the Memorial Day holiday.

On Wall Street, stocks rose notably overnight after the European Central Bank rolled out sub-zero interest rates and launched a series of measures to fight deflation and revive the region's fragile economy. With focus remaining on ECB's policy decision, investors shrugged off a report showing a modest rebound in initial jobless claims in the week ended May 31st.

The Dow and the S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent and 0.7 percent, respectively to fresh record highs, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq rallied 1.1 percent to reach its best level in over two months.

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This article appears in: News Headlines

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