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Asian Stocks Cautious Ahead of US Jobs

Sentiment in Asia turned cautious on Friday ahead of a key jobs report in the U.S. but Shanghai stocks rallied as investors cheered new measures by the Chinese central bank to open up its capital markets.

The Shanghai Composite rose 1.4 percent to rebound from the previous day's 2013 low while South Korea's Kospi closed just below a six-week high. Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 reversed earlier strong gains to end flat.

Japanese financial markets were shut for the Golden Week holidays and will resume trade on Tuesday.

April's non-farm payrolls data in the U.S, expected later on Friday, is expected to show a creation of 145,000 new jobs, which would be a significant improvement from March's figure of 88,000.

(Read More: Market's Expectations for April Jobs Report Are Low)

"There is a lot of uncertainty partly because of seasonality, partly because of conflicting readings between the ADP National Employment Report and the weekly initial claims filing. Even in the best case, I'm afraid it won't change the picture. This is still a relatively weak job market," said Adolfo Laurenti, managing director and deputy chief economist at Mesirow Financial.

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
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HSI
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ASX 200
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SHANGHAI
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KOSPI
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CNBC 100
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Shanghai Crosses 2,200

The People's Bank of China (PBOC) unveiled fresh guidelines for foreign investors' yuan-denominated activities on Friday, which will promote the yuan's overseas use.

The news lifted brokerages across the board with Haitong Securities leading gains by 4 percent while CITIC Securities and Founder Securities rose 3 percent each.

(Read More: Can Stimulus Save China Stocks From Year Lows?)

The benchmark Shanghai Composite finished the week with a gain of 1.3 percent.

Australia Flat

Banking shares dominated trade in Australia as investors cheered better-than-expected earnings and shareholder payouts.

Macquarie Group surged 10 percent after the lender raised its dividend to $1.25 per share and beat forecasts with a 17 percent rise in full-year profit.

However, Westpac shares fell 1 percent after rallying as much as 1.4 percent as investors engaged in profit taking. The lender raised its first-half dividend to 86 cents per share on Friday and offered a special payout of 10 cents a share.

Shares of electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi rallied 8.4 percent after it announced a profit upgrade, citing a turnaround in sales this year.

Kospi Ends Above 1,960

Investors bought into telecom shares for a second straight session on optimism over double-digit first-quarter profit growth, which pushed the index to its highest level since March 21 at 1,968 points in early trade.

Shares of the nation's biggest wireless operator, SK Telecom, shot up 3.4 percent after reporting a 15 percent rise in quarterly consolidated net income from the year earlier on Thursday.

KT Corp, the nation's second-largest mobile-phone carrier, climbed 1.4 percent ahead of posting first quarter results on Friday.