Asian Markets Mixed Ahead Of US Jobs Data

Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday as investors continued to digest the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s December policy meeting.

Focus turned to upcoming data from the American labor market, with some officials saying they want to start shrinking balance sheet soon after rate liftoff.

Gold steadied in Asian trade, but was set for its biggest weekly fall since late November as higher Treasury yields continued to support the dollar.

Oil prices headed for their biggest weekly gains since mid-December as an uprising in Kazakhstan led to concerns about disruptions in crude supplies from the OPEC+ producers at a time when Libyan output has dropped.

Chinese shares slipped, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite index ending down 6.54 points, or 0.18 percent, at 3,579.54. The downside remained limited amid hopes that Beijing will roll out more support measures to prioritize economic stability.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 420.52 points, or 1.82 percent, to 23,493.38, with property stocks climbing after reports that Chinese policymakers plan to exclude debt accrued from acquiring distressed assets when assessing debt ratio compliance.

Japanese shares ended a choppy session largely unchanged with a negative bias ahead of a three-day weekend in the country.

The Nikkei average slipped 9.31 points to 28,478.56 and ended down about 1 percent for the week after four straight weeks of gains. The broader Topix index also slipped marginally but posted its fifth straight weekly rise.

Banks and other financial institutions gained ground, with Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rallying 3.4 percent. Japan Petroleum Exploration Company jumped 3 percent, supported by higher crude oil prices. Market heavyweight SoftBank Group rose 2.2 percent.

In economic releases, Japan’s household spending posted an annual drop for the fourth straight month in November, while core consumer prices in Tokyo rose at the fastest pace in nearly two years in December, separate reports showed.

Australian markets rallied, with financials and energy stocks leading the surge. The benchmark S&P ASX 200 jumped 95 points, or 1.29 percent, to 7,453.30, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 95.10 points, or 1.24 percent, at 7,774.40.

James Hardie plunged 4.1 percent after the world’s top fibre cement maker ousted its chief for breaching code of conduct.

Seoul stocks rose, led by gains in tech shares following Samsung Electronics Co. and LG Electronics Co.’s robust fourth-quarter earnings guidance.

The Kospi average climbed 34.36 points, or 1.18 percent, to 2,954.89 after falling 2.3 percent in the previous two sessions amid worries the Federal Reserve may raise interest rates earlier than expected.

Samsung Electronics advanced 1.8 percent after the world’s biggest smartphone maker it forecast 52.5 percent jump in Q4 profits on record sales. LG Electronics added 1.9 percent after the company estimated its fourth-quarter sales reached a record quarterly high.

New Zealand shares fluctuated before finishing marginally lower for the day on concerns that higher interest rates will increase borrowing costs for businesses and consumers.

U.S. stocks ended a choppy session lower overnight amid Omicron and rate hike concerns. In economic news, readings on jobless claims and service sector growth disappointed.

The Dow dropped half a percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 both slipped around 0.1 percent.

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