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Asia stocks mixed ahead of US jobs report; Greek worry remains

Asian equities were mixed on Friday ahead of the closely-watched U.S. jobs report while apprehension about Greece's bailout program also weighed on sentiment.

Higher oil prices were a bright spot for Asian traders; Brent and U.S. crude traded above $50 a barrel after rallying 5 percent overnight.

Friday's non-farm payrolls (NFP) report is expected to show the creation of 234,000 jobs in January, according to a Reuters survey of economists, versus 252,000 jobs in December. Major U.S. indices rallied 1 percent on Thursday ahead of the release.

"Give and take weather disruptions resulting in some fluctuations in month-to-month jobs data, January NFP is not going to be the pivotal game-changer; so to speak," said economists at Mizuho Bank in a note.

Meanwhile, worries about Athens remained in focus after the finance ministers of Germany and Greece openly clashed during a press conference in Berlin, failing to reach any deal to resolve the latter's financial crisis.

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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Nikkei gains 0.8%

Japanese shares won back nearly all of Thursday's 1 percent loss as earnings season continued to be the market's main driver.

Air bag maker Takata rallied 4 percent despite reporting a nine-month net loss of $277 million.

Nikon closed down more than 5 percent after cutting earnings forecast for the year ending in March and McDonald's Japan fell 1 percent after posting a 2014 operating loss of 6.7 billion yen.

China markets lower

Shanghai stocks lost 2 percent on worries a raft of new initial public offerings (IPOs) due next week will hurt market liquidity. Sentiment also fell after after state media firm Xinhua reported on Thursday that the central bank's recent RRR cut won't mark the start of an aggressive easing stance, quoting a central bank official.

Banks were the most actively traded stocks on the Shanghai Composite; Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and Agricultural Bank of China eased 2 and 3 percent, respectively.

ASX 0.1% higher

Australia's benchmark S&P ASX 200 climbed to a new seven-year high, extending gains into a twelfth straight session - the index's longest winning streak ever. However, the index pared gains after the Reserve Bank of Australia lowered its growth forecast for 2015 in its monetary policy statement.

Oil stocks rose, with Woodside Petroleum nearly 1 percent higher and Beach Energy up nearly 3 percent.

Kospi slips 0.2%

South Korean shares were unable to join Asia-wide gains due to a 1.5 percent fall in index heavyweight Hyundai Motor. Shares fell after the Hyundai family sold a 13 percent stake worth $1.1 billion in shipping affiliate Hyundai Glovis.

Nifty drops 0.1%

Indian shares fell to their lowest level in over two weeks, on track for a 1.6 percent weekly loss. The index closed down 0.46 percent.