Asian markets closed on a mixed note Friday as traders turned cautious ahead of the all important jobs data from the world's biggest economy. However, traders sentiment were supported by encouraging services sector data out of China.
The Chinese service sector expanded at the fastest pace in six months in April, easing concerns over the slowdown of the world's second largest economy amid poor manufacturing performance. The headline HSBC business activity index rose to a six-month high of 54.1 in April from 53.3 in March. The index reading above 50 indicates expansion of the sector and a reading below 50 suggests contraction. The improvement was supported by the growth in new orders, which was the strongest in ten months.
In the commodity markets, the price of gold was extending losses for a fifth straight session, with gold for June delivery shedding $5.20 to $1,629.60 an ounce. The price of crude oil dipped near a one-month low, with crude for June delivery losing $1.00 to $101.54 a barrel.
China's Shanghai Composite index edged up 11.93 points or 0.49% to 2,452.01, largely helped by upsurges in resources-related stocks even as property developers came in under pressure. Also, speculation the government may take steps such as cutting banks' reserve requirements to avoid a deeper slowdown helped lift trader sentiment.
Industrial Bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. and China Construction Bank Corp. were among prominent gainers.
Train systems maker China CNR ended higher after announcing that it received multi-billion yuan contracts for railway freight cars.
Meanwhile, the Hong Kong market shed some gains as traders turned cautious ahead of the weekend. The Hang Seng Index lost 163.53 points or 0.77% to 21,086.
China Resources Land Ltd and China Overseas Land & Investment Ltd were among the top losers.
The Australian market ended lower pressured by sell-offs in resources amid global growth concerns. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 shed 33.00 points to 4,396 while the broader All Ordinaries index lost 35.10 points to 4,459.40. Meanwhile, New Zealand stocks ended lower with the main index losing 0.75% to 3,549.78.
Among resource plays, BHP Billiton, Woodside Petroleum and Newcrest Mining ended as losers. In the financial space, Macquarie, AMP, ANZ Bank and QBE Insurance all moved down.
Elsewhere, the South Korean Kospi edged down 0.30% to 1,989.15.
Indonesia's Jakarta Composite index ended lower, while the Taiwan Weighted average was up marginally. Malaysia's KLSE Composite rose 0.19 percent, while Singapore's Straits Times index eased 0.34 percent
Overnight US stocks closed lower with traders reacting negatively to a mixed batch of U.S. economic data. Caution ahead of Friday's closely watched monthly jobs report also contributed to some risk aversion on Wall Street.
by RTT Staff Writer
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