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Shares in Asia gain as investors look ahead to U.S. jobs data

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Shutterstock photo - - Asian shares rose on Thursday ahead of a U.S. jobs report on Friday that will be released even with a public holiday and expected to set the tone for the timing of a widely expected rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year.

The Shanghai Composite rose 0.19% at the break, while the S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.58% and the Nikkei 225 soared 1.57%.

Data set a tone for the region.

In Australia, the March TD-MI Inflation Gauge rose 0.4%, compared to flat for February and up 1.5% for the first quarter from 1.3% in February with a warning that oil-price related deflation cannot be ruled out for now.

"The RBA board is in an uncomfortable position," said TD head of Asia-Pacific research Annette Beacher.

"The exchange rate remains above the bank's measure of fundamental value - especially given the recent slide in the iron-ore price and the economy is expanding at a lukewarm subtrend pace. In stark contrast house prices and auction-clearance rates are accelerating as record-low finance costs encourage rampant property speculation. While low inflation certainly allows the RBA to cut the cash rate further we pencil in only one more cash-rate reduction to 2% in May."

Also in Australia, the the February trade balance data met expectations of a deficit of A$1.3 billion versus a deficit of A$980 million in January.

In Japan, the BoJ's corporate inflation outlook in the Tankan showed firm expect a 1.4% increase in consumer prices on average in the March survey, the same as in December. Firms on average expected a 1.4% increase in consumer prices in March, down slightly from 1.5% in the previous survey.

BoJ officials have said that inflation expectations appear to be rising on the whole "from a somewhat longer-term perspective" and Japan can achieve stable 2% inflation "around fiscal 2015." They expect the year-on-year change in core consumer prices to stay around zero in the first half of this fiscal year before picking up in the second half.

Many economists and some BoJ board members however remain skeptical about the timeframe for hitting the 2% target.

Overnight, U.S. stocks were lower after the close on Wednesday, as losses in the Healthcare, Consumer Services and Industrials sectors led shares lower.

At the close in New York, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.44%, while the S&P 500 index declined 0.40%, and the NASDAQ Composite index lost 0.42%.

The best performers of the session on the Dow Jones Industrial Average were Goldman Sachs Group Inc (NYSE:NYSE:GS), which rose 2.27% or 4.26 points to trade at 192.23 at the close. Meanwhile, American Express Company (NYSE:NYSE:AXP) added 1.04% or 0.81 points to end at 78.93 and Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:NYSE:VZ) was up 0.60% or 0.29 points to 48.92 in late trade.

Also on Wednesday, data showed that manufacturing activity in the U.S. expanded at the slowest pace in 14 months in March and that U.S. non-farm private employment rose less than expected.

The Institute for Supply Management said on Wednesday that its index of purchasing managers fell to 51.5 last month from a reading of 52.9 in February. Analysts had expected the manufacturing PMI to decline to 52.5 in March.

Earlier Wednesday, payroll processing firm ADP reported that non-farm private employment rose by 189,000 last month, below expectations for an increase of 225,000. The economy created 214,000 jobs in February, whose figure was upwardly revised from a previously reported 212,000.

Investors turned their attention to the upcoming U.S. jobs report due out on Friday, which was expected to support expectations for higher interest rates. offers an extensive set of professional tools for the financial markets.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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