Asian Markets Wobble Ahead of US Jobs Data

Asian stocks dipped Friday as investors grew cautious before a key U.S. jobs report, while the Australian dollar got only a brief lift despite signals from the central bank that interest rates could rise over time.

The main U.S. share indices fell by up to 1 percent, with technology and consumer staples the biggest losers, as investors awaited the closely-watched U.S. non-farm payrolls report, which is forecast to show job losses of 320,000 in July.

Corporate earnings' reports out of Asia continued to highlight the extent of the global recession, with shares of Japanese consumer electronics maker Pioneer tumbling more than 4 percent in Tokyo after it posted a quarterly loss

The U.S. dollar was higher as the mood of caution prompted a move to safer havens. Sterling stabilised against the greenback following the Bank of England's shock announcement that it would expand its quantitative easing plan as Britain's downturn appeared to have been deeper than previously thought. Oil prices pulled back from six-week highs to trade below $72 dollars a barrel, knocked by weakness on Wall Street.

After spending most of the session in negative territory, Japan's Nikkei 225Average hit its highest close in 10 months during the last hour of trade, helped by gains in shares of companies such as Toray Industries that had positive surprises in their earnings reports.

South Korea's KOSPI ended firmer, up 0.7 percent, helped by gains in banks including Woori Finance Holdings, but falls by tech issues such as LG Display and caution before U.S. job data weighed.

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In markets still trading, Hong Kong shares extended losses, now down 1.6 percent as investors continue to sell off Chinese bank shares on worries the easy money days on the mainland may soon come to an end. But index heavyweight China Mobile rose 3 percent higher, limiting losses, as speculation mounted over a Shanghai-listing for the company.

Singapore's Straits Times Index tumbled 1.3 percent lower. DBS Group shed 3 percent after it reported that its second-quarter profit fell 15 percent, better than expected as strong loan growth and higher fee income offset a jump in bad debt charges.

China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 2 percent. Metal and property shares were down, with Aluminum Corp of China sliding 5.7 percent while Zhongfu sank 7.3 percent after soaring 100 percent in July. Property developer China Vanke lost 2.2 percent.