Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday even as positive Chinese data boosted optimism about the global economic outlook.
The focus was on the U.S. jobs data due tonight, with economists expecting U.S. employment to jump by 978,000 jobs in April after an increase of 916,000 jobs in May. The unemployment rate is expected to dip to 5.8 percent from 6.0 percent.
China’s Shanghai Composite Index dropped 22.41 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,418.87 after a Bloomberg report suggested that the Biden administration is likely to preserve limits on U.S. investments in certain Chinese companies. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index edged down 26.81 points, or 0.1 percent, to 28,610.65.
Chinese exports grew more than expected in April as global demand remained strong, data from the General Administration of Customs revealed today.
Exports advanced 32.3 percent on a yearly basis in April, while economists had forecast the growth rate to ease to 24.1 percent from 30.6 percent in March. Likewise, imports surged 43.1 percent from the previous year versus the expected growth of 42.5 percent.
The services sector in China continued to expand in April, and at a faster pace, the latest survey from Caixin revealed, with a services PMI score of 56.3, up from 54.3 in March. The report also showed that the composite index moved up to 54.7 from 53.1 in March.
Japanese shares ended little changed after a survey showed the services sector in Japan continued to contract in April, albeit at a slower pace, with a PMI score of 49.5, up from 48.3 in March.
The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 26.45 points, or 0.1 percent, to 29,357.82, with continuing concerns about the spike in daily domestic coronavirus infections and possible lockdowns capping the upside. The broader Topix closed 0.3 percent higher at 1,933.05.
According to media reports, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said the situation in the capital has not improved enough to lift the state of emergency, as plans are afloat to expand and extend the ongoing pandemic-related state of emergency.
Tech stocks rose, with Advantest, Tokyo Electron and Screen Holdings gaining 1-3 percent.
Australian markets eked out modest gains as surging commodity prices helped lift miners. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 19.10 points, or 0.3 percent, to 7,080.80, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 19.20 points, or 0.3 percent, at 7,325.20.
Mining giants BHP Group and Rio Tinto rose 0.6 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively to mark their fourth consecutive session of gains after London copper prices hit a record high, boosted by tight supply outlook and improving demand prospects.
Gold miners Northern Star, Newcrest and Evolution rallied 2-4 percent after gold priced climbed. Tech shares fell broadly, with Afterpay tumbling 4.1 percent. In the healthcare sector, heavyweight CSL shed 0.9 percent. Nuix lost 3 percent after the data forensic firm downgraded its revenue forecast.
In economic news, the services sector in Australia continued to expand in April, and at a faster rate, the latest survey from the Australian Industry Group showed, with a Performance of Services Index score of 61.0, up from 58.7 in March.
Seoul stocks rose for the third day on growing hopes of a faster than expected economic recovery around the world. The Kospi climbed 18.46 points, or 0.6 percent, to 3,197.20, with construction, energy and financial shares performing well, while tech stocks underperformed on lingering inflation worries.
South Korea posted a current account surplus of $7.82 billion in March, the Bank of Korea said in a preliminary reading. That was down from the downwardly revised $7.94 billion surplus in February (originally $8.03 billion).
New Zealand shares fell slightly, with the benchmark NZX-50 Index ending down 21.75 points, or 0.2 percent, at 12,729.92. Fonterra Co-operative Group shares plunged 13.4 percent after the dairy giant proposed reforming its capital structure.
Overnight, U.S. stocks ended mostly higher after data showed applications for unemployment insurance fell last week to a fresh pandemic-era low.
The Dow climbed 0.9 percent to reach another new record closing high, the S&P 500 rose 0.8 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite added 0.4 percent.
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