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Asian stocks rangebound as US budget weighs; Nikkei underperforms

Asian equities ended the week mostly higher after the latest U.S jobs data boosted confidence in the economic recovery but trade was rangebound due to worries that a failure to resolve U.S. budget talks will lead to a government shutdown.

Australia's S&P ASX 200 closed at a five-year high while the Shanghai Composite and the Kospi added 0.2 percent each but Japan's Nikkei and Indian stocks both posted modest losses.

For the week, Australia was Asia's best-performing index with gains of 0.6 percent while the Shanghai Composite posted the worst performance with a 1.4 percent loss.

A larger-than-expected drop in U.S. weekly jobless claims helped Wall Street shares snap a five-day losing streak. Focus remained on Washington, where the Obama administration and House Republicans debate a short-term funding bill to keep the government running beyond October 1 or risk the closure of federal agencies.

(Read more: Brawl in US Congress– should the world care?)

Symbol
Name
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
---
HSI
---
ASX 200
---
SHANGHAI
---
KOSPI
---
CNBC 100
---

"The almost blind optimism in the equity markets has a feeling that it is just waiting for the rug to be pulled out from underneath it. There is so much geopolitical concern coming out of the world's benchmark economy - That coupled with moderate news out of Europe and Japan over the last four weeks shows markets are supremely confident things will be ironed out," said Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG.

Nikkei eases 0.3%

Japan's benchmark index underperfomed its Asian peers after finance minister Taro Aso said that he is not thinking of lowering the effective corporate tax rate. Sentiment was also hit after ratings agency S&P said that Japan may face a debt downgrade if it doesn't shrink its budget deficit.

Investors largely shrugged off upbeat data. Nationwide core inflation for August posted its biggest gain since November 2008, which will support Prime Minister Abe's decision to raise the consumption sales tax, but analysts remain skeptical of the government's 2 percent inflation goal.

(Read more: Abe to rule on salestax rise: Will he, won't he?)

Panasonic ended 0.2 percent higher following an earlier 1 percent spike on news it will sell an 80 percent stake in its healthcare unit to U.S. investment firm KKR.

Autoparts maker Mitsuba Electric closed down 12 percent after confessing to price fixing and agreed to pay more than $700 million in fines, alongside eight other firms.

Tokyo Electric Power rallied as much as 8 percent after getting the green light to apply to restart its Kashiwazaki Kariwa facility in western Japan.

Shanghai 0.2% higher

China's benchmark index recovered from the previous day's two-week low but trade was quiet ahead of the week-long National Day holiday on October 1.

Construction, logistics transportation, and financial stocks that have rallied sharply in recent weeks ahead of the Shanghai free trade zone launch this Sunday were among the biggest losers as investors booked profits.

Shanghai International Port, Shanghai Material Trading and CTS International Logistics tumbled by the daily trading limit of 10 percent each.

(Read more: Shanghai's free trade zone - What's the hype about?)

Real-estate developers were lower after the Ministry of Land and Resources said on Thursday that local governments must release more land for residential building to cool price rises. China Merchants Property and Poly Real Estate fell 1 and 2 percent, respectively.

Sydney hits highs

Australia's share market climbed above 5,300 points to hit its highest levels since 2008.

Westpac reversed early gains to slip 0.2 percent after media reports revealed it is the front-runner to buy Lloyds' Australian business, which is worth about $10 billion.

Gold miners slumped after spot gold headed for its fifth weekly decline. Newcrest Mining fell 3.4 percent while Kingsgate Consolidated closed down 1.5 percent.

Speaking at a press conference, Treasurer Joe Hockey announced the final 2012-1023 budget deficit came in at A$18.8 billion, around 1.2 percent of GDP.

Kospi adds 0.2%

South Korean stocks hovered around 2,010 points throughout the session, modestly higher after the nation's August current account surplus came in at its second-highest level on record thanks to strong exports.

(Read more: The best 'unstable' emerging market: Commentary)

Shipbuilders rose on the prospects of higher earnings. Hyundai Heavy Industries and Hyundai Mipo Dockyard rose nearly 3 percent each.

India 0.3% lower

India's benchmark index erased opening gains to drift lower after central bank governor Raghuram Rajan said that core inflation remains high during a visit to Germany. Meanwhile, the rupee strengthened 0.4 percent to 61 per dollar.

— By CNBC.com's Nyshka Chandran. Follow her on Twitter @NyshkaCNBC

Symbol
Price
 
Change
%Change
NIKKEI
---
ASX 200
---
6752.T
---
LLOY
---
WBC
---
KOSPI
---
FMG
---
JPY/USD
---
NCM
---
KCN
---
SHANGHAI
---
9501.T
---
USD/INR
---

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