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Asian Markets Trade Mixed Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Data

Asian stock markets are trading mixed on Friday, tracking the lackluster cues overnight from Wall Street amid renewed concerns about the Eurozone debt crisis. In addition, investors preferred to stay on the sidelines ahead of the release of key U.S. jobs data later in the day.

Many of the regional markets are closed in observance of Good Friday.

The Japanese stock market is trading in negative territory, tracking the mixed Wall Street cues. In addition, the yen's rise against the euro weighed on export-oriented stocks.

In early morning trades, the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index is losing 80.70 points or 0.83 percent to 9,686.91.

In the tech space, Advantest is currently losing 2.17 percent, Kyocera is declining 0.27 percent, Tokyo Electron is down 0.64 percent and Sony is trading lower by 1.86 percent.

NEC Corp. has teamed up with Microsoft to jointly develop and sell cloud-based services for various business sectors, according to a Nikkei report. However, NEC's stock is currently down 0.60 percent.

According to media reports, Toshiba Corp. is considering launching a joint bid with South Korea's SK Hynix Inc. for bankrupt Japanese chip maker Elpida Memory Inc. Toshiba's stock is currently trading lower by 0.57 percent.

Exporters are trading lower on concerns that the euro's weakness could erode their profitability. Canon is down 1.03 percent, Hitachi is losing 1.49 percent, Sharp is declining 1.93 percent and Komatsu is trading lower by 1.63 percent.

In the banking sector, Mitsubishi UFJ is trading lower by 1.23 percent and Mizuho Financial is down 1.55 percent.

Among automakers, Honda Motor is declining 1.79 percent, Toyota Motor is losing 1.59 percent and Mitsubishi Motors is down 2.15 percent.

According to a report in the Nikkei business daily, Toyota will shift the development of models sold aboard from Japan to overseas markets, starting with the U.S. The company intends to fully localize auto development through the move.

On the economic front, Japan is scheduled to release preliminary February figures for its leading and coincident indexes, as well as March reserve assets data.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar was trading in the lower 82 yen range. In early morning trades, the dollar was quoted in a range of 82.20 to 82.24 yen, down 0.05 yen from Thursday's close of 82.25 to 82.26 yen in Tokyo.

The euro was quoted in a range of 107.38 to 107.42 yen, down from 108.11 to 108.15 yen in Tokyo late Thursday afternoon. The euro was sold against the yen amid growing concerns over the European debt crisis and the outlook for the eurozone economy.

The South Korean market is trading flat, after opening lower on lingering worries about the Eurozone debt crisis.

In late morning trades, the benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index or KOSPI is adding 2.18 points or 0.11 percent to 2,030.95.

Samsung Electronics Co. said it estimates first-quarter operating profit of 5.80 trillion won, up 97 percent from 2.95 trillion won in the year-ago period. In addition, the company forecasts first-quarter sales of 45.00 trillion won, representing a 21.65 percent increase from 36.99 trillion won a year earlier. However, the company's stock is trading lower by 0.38 percent.

Many of the markets in Asia are closed in observance of Good Friday, including New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Hong Kong, Philippines and Indonesia. In addition, the market in Thailand is closed for Chakri Day.

On Wall Street, stocks showed a lack of direction throughout the trading day on Thursday, with some traders looking to get a head start on the long weekend. Uncertainty about Friday's monthly employment report also contributed to the choppy trading.

The major U.S. averages ended the session mixed on Thursday. While the NASDAQ rose 12.41 points or 0.4 percent to finish at 3,080.50, the Dow edged down 14.61 points or 0.1 percent to end at 13,060.14 and the S&P 500 slipped 0.88 points or 0.1 percent to 1,398.08.

The major European markets also closed mixed on Thursday. While the German DAX Index edged down by 0.1 percent, the French CAC 40 Index crept up by 0.2 percent and the U.K.'s FTSE Index rose by 0.4 percent.

U.S. crude oil futures rebounded to close higher on Thursday, after having plunged to a 7-week low yesterday. Oil prices moved up as traders seeking a bargain honed in to make most of the low prices after yesterday beating, in addition to Iranian oil supply concerns and some encouraging China data.

Crude for May delivery gained $1.84 or 1.8 percent to close at $103.31 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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