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Asian Shares Mostly Higher Before US Jobs Report

stockmarkets jan11 10jan20 lt

Asian stocks ended broadly higher on Friday amid easing U.S.-Iran tensions and ahead of release of the U.S. Labor Department's jobs report for December later in the day.

China's Shanghai Composite index ended marginally lower at 3,092.29 but rose 0.3 percent for the week, marking its sixth straight weekly gain ahead of the signing of a Sino-U.S. trade deal next week. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index inched up 0.27 percent to 28,638.20.

Japanese shares rose as the yen hit a two-week low versus the dollar on the back of easing tensions in the Middle East. The Nikkei average gained 110.70 points, or 0.47 percent, to 23,850.57, while the broader Topix index closed 0.35 percent higher at 1,735.16.

Tech stocks advanced, with Advantest rising 1.1 percent and Tokyo Electron gaining 1.5 percent. China-linked shares such as Komatsu and Fanuc rose 1-2 percent. Uniqlo chain operator Fast Retailing fell 2.8 percent after cutting its full-year profit outlook.

Japan household spending decreased 2 percent year-on-year in November, following a 5.1 percent decline in October, a government report showed.

Australian markets hit record highs as U.S.-Iran tensions ebbed and China confirmed plans to sign the Phase 1 trade deal with the U.S. next week.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index climbed 54.80 points, or 0.80 percent, to 6,929, while the broader All Ordinaries index ended up 50.50 points, or 0.72 percent, at 7,041.90.

Energy stocks finished mostly higher despite crude oil futures settling near four-week lows on Thursday.

The big four banks rose between 0.4 percent and 1.2 percent while insurers Suncorp Group and QBE Insurance Group added 0.6 percent and 0.9 percent, respectively.

In the healthcare sector, CSL rallied 2.8 percent and Cochlear advanced 1.3 percent.

Mining heavyweights BHP and Rio Tinto ended narrowly mixed while gold miner Evolution lost as much as 6 percent, Newcrest declined 1.4 percent and Northern Star Resources tumbled 3 percent.

Coles Group rallied 2.9 percent, Wesfarmers added 1.4 percent and Woolworths gained 1.6 percent after official data showed Australia's retail turnover increased 0.9 percent on a monthly basis in November, driven by a strong growth in Black Friday sales.

Separately, data from Australian Industry Group revealed that Australia's service sector contracted in December. The Performance of Services Index fell 5.0 points to 48.7 points in December.

Seoul stocks posted strong gains for the second straight session amid signs that
the United States and Iran may avoid an all-out war despite persisting tensions between them. The Kospi average surged 19.94 points, or 0.91 percent, to close at 2,206.39. It marked the first time for the index to close higher than the 2,200 threshold since Dec. 27.

New Zealand shares rose slightly, with the benchmark NZX 50 index closing up 14.02 points, or 0.12 percent, at 11,551.70. Air New Zealand rose 1.4 percent buoyed by sliding oil prices.

Malaysia's KLSE Composite index was down 0.3 percent despite factory output data for November beating forecasts.

U.S. stocks hit fresh record highs overnight as concerns about war in the Middle East eased and investors positioned for the U.S.-China partial trade deal, expected to be signed on January 15.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 climbed around 0.7 percent while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite advanced 0.8 percent.

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