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Asian Markets End Mixed, U.S. Jobs Data in Focus

CNBC.com
Friday, 7 Sep 2007 | 5:06 AM ET

It was a mixed end to the Asian trading week. Japan's Nikkei 225 Index closed lower as investors took profit from the previous session's gains. But traders mainly took a wait-and-see approach ahead of a key U.S. jobs report due Friday.

Japanese financials fell after central banks around the world from Asia to Europe held interest rates steady, sparking expectations that the Bank of Japan may follow suit. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group fell 1.8% while Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group fell 3% and Mizuho Financial dropped 3.5%.

South Korea's KOSPI gave up its gains to close down 0.2% at 1,884.90 points.

Hyundai Motor Group shares reversed course after rising on news its chairman's jail sentence was suspended by an appeals court.

SK Energy was one notable winner in Seoul. The stock rose 5% to finish at 158,000 won after the oil refiner said on Thursday it may not list its unit SK Incheon, opting instead for an internal merger that would give it full control of the valuable affiliate.

Other energy stocks around the region racked up solid gains on the back of a spike in crude prices. Inpex Holdings, CNOOC and PetroChina were among the big gainers.

China Oilfield Services' Hong Kong-listed H-shares jumped as much as 11% to a record high on plans to list on the domestic mainland stock market.

But that failed to lift Hong Kong and China stocks out of negative territory.

The Shanghai Composite Index lost 2.2% to end the week at 5,277 after the central bank said late on Thursday that it would tighten monetary policy by raising bank reserve requirements a further 0.5 percentage point.

Meanwhile, the Hang Seng Index closed 0.3% lower, falling below the 24,000 mark.

Australian shares rose as fresh talk of a merger involving global miner Rio Tinto lifted mining firms. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index closed 0.44% higher at 6,278 after falling as much as 1.2% earlier in the session.

Retail Food Group, a food brand manufacturer and franchiser, surged 28% to close at A$1.84 after it said it would pay up to A$88 million ($73 million) for Michel's Group Australia, which runs the Michel's Patisserie franchise.

Consolidated Minerals also jumped 6.1% to end at A$4.31, a level unseen since October 2005, after Pallinghurst Resources Australia raised its offer for the manganese miner to A$4.10 per share, trumping a bid by Ukraine's Palmary.

Elsewhere in Asia, Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.7% to 3,489 while the Taiwan Index was flat though it managed to stay above 9,018.