Asia Markets

Asia stocks mixed before US jobs report, ECB meeting


Asian equity markets were mixed on Thursday in cautious trade before key U.S. economic data and a European Central Bank meeting.

In the last full day of trading before the July 4th holiday, the Dow and eked out minuscule gains to end at record highs after ADP data showed companies added a much-larger-than-expected 281,000 new positions in June. The number bodes well for the government's June nonfarm payrolls report due later on Thursday, which is expected to show 215,000 new jobs.

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Also on tap later is a monetary policy decision from the European Central Bank. After revealing a raft of stimulus measures at its last meeting, experts say the central bank is unlikely to act this time.

Nikkei slips 0.2%

Japan's benchmark erased earlier gains, snapping a three-day wining streak, as investors booked profits on the index's recent gains. On Wednesday, the index notched a new one-week closing high for the second straight day, briefly hitting a five-month peak.

Expectations building for a strong US jobs report

Toshiba rallied over 2 percent on reports that its close to finalizing a $5 billion deal to build a nuclear reactor in Bulgaria.

Convenience stores Seven and I closed down 1.3 percent while FamilyMart lost 2 percent ahead of posting first-quarter earnings after the market close.

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China shares mixed

Mainland shares edged up 0.2 percent after activity in the country's service sector expanded at its fastest pace in 15 months in June, according to a private survey by HSBC/Markit.

Financials gained after the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said it will allow banks to set their own dollar-yuan rates when doing deals with clients. Agricultural Bank of China added 0.8 percent while China Construction Bank rose 1 percent.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped 0.1 percent after soaring to a near seven-month high on Wednesday.

Read MoreWill China reforms rejuvenate Hong Kong stocks?

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ASX 0.6% higher

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 index ended at a one-month high while the Australian dollar dropped nearly 1 percent to a one-week low after May retail sales fell 0.5 percent on month, missing estimates for a flat reading.

The currency was initially sold off after central bank governor Glenn Stevens warned investors that they were underestimating the risk of a sharp fall in the overvalued dollar.

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Miners rallied after copper prices rose to a four-month high; Fortescue Metals surged more than 5 percent while BHP Billiton ended 1 percent higher.

Kospi 0.2% lower

South Korean stocks retreated after climbing to new five-week highs in the previous session. Data out before the market open showed the country's foreign reserves rose by the biggest amount in eight months in June.

LG Chem closed down nearly 2 percent despite announcing that it will build a third electric vehicle battery factory in eastern China, as it moves to meet surging demand for green solutions.

Read MoreDownward pressure remains for China: Premier Li

Meanwhile, the won traded near the previous day's six-year peak against the greenback.

Sensex shut

India's Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) said trading had resumed across all of its markets after being disrupted for about three hours due to a network outage in the morning. Stocks were trading flat on Thursday after trading restarted.