Asia Markets

Asia shares mixed in cautious trade before US jobs data


Asian shares ended mixed on the final day of the week with traders hesitant to make big bets ahead of Friday's U.S. jobs report.

The mood was also quiet due to the holiday period. Chinese financial markets remain closed until Monday while both Japanese and South Korean markets will be shut Monday and Tuesday for public holidays.

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Escalating tensions in eastern Ukraine also weighed on sentiment. Pro-Russian separatists in the town of Slaviansk said that Ukrainian forces launched a "large-scale operation" to retake the town, according to Reuters.

For the week, Australia's benchmark index was the region's worst performer with losses of 1.3 percent. South Korea's Kospi came in second, down 0.6 percent, while the Nikkei outperformed with a 0.2 percent gain.

US jobs watched

U.S. stocks fluctuated on Thursday, a day after the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose to a record finish, as investors took a cautious approach before the April nonfarm payrolls report. Economists polled by Reuters forecast a 200,000 gain in jobs, which would be a modest improvement from March's 192,000.

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Nikkei slips 0.2%

Japanese shares declined after ending at their highest levels in over a week on Thursday with the benchmark Nikkei hovering around 14,450 points for most of the session.

Sony ended 0.5 percent lower after skidding 2 percent to a six-week low earlier in the session following its profit warning.

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IHI jumped over 5 percent after activist investor Daniel Loeb said his hedge fund took a position in the heavy machinery maker.

Retailers declined despite data showing household spending surged in March, beating estimates. Takashimaya and Daiei both lost 1 percent each.

ASX up 0.2%

Australia's benchmark rebounded after hitting a two-week low for the second straight session earlier in the day. Data showing that first-quarter producer prices rose an annual 2.5 percent helped to lift sentiment. Still, the index posted its first weekly loss for the first time in six weeks.

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Investment bank Macquarie erased losses to gain 0.9 percent despite posting a 56 percent rise in half-year profits.

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Department store Myer lost more than 2 percent after reporting a 0.9 percent fall in third-quarter total sales.

Treasury Wine Estates climbed 6.5 percent on reports that French drinks giant Pernod Ricard may be buying key assets of the winemaker's business.

Kospi slips 0.1%

South Korea's benchmark Kospi ended at its lowest levels over a month for a second straight session as investors reacted to a raft of economic reports. Markets were shut on Thursday for the 'May Day' public holiday.

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Data on Thursday showed the economy recorded its 27th straight month of trade surplus last month while consumer prices rose at their fastest pace in eight months.

India posts modest gains

Indian shares rose ahead of key manufacturing data due out later in the session.