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Asian Shares Advance Ahead Of U.S. Jobs Data

stockmarkets aug20 05jun20 lt

Asian stocks finished mostly higher on Friday even as caution prevailed ahead of the U.S. employment report due out later in the day.

Economists expect U.S. employment to tumble by about 8.0 million jobs in May after plunging by 20.5 million jobs in April. The unemployment rate is expected to jump to 19.8 percent, a post-World War II record, from 14.7 percent in April.

Chinese shares ended a choppy session higher, with the benchmark Shanghai Composite rising 11.55 points, or 0.40 percent, to 2,930.80. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rallied 404.11 points, or 1.7 percent, to 24,770.41.

Japanese shares rose for a fifth straight session, with a weaker yen and overall optimism about an economic rebound from the coronavirus pandemic helping underpin investor sentiment. The Nikkei 225 Index climbed 167.99 points, or 0.7 percent, to 22,863.73, a 3-1/2-month high. The broader Topix closed 0.5 percent higher at 1,612.48.

Export-focused automakers Honda Motor, Nissan and Mazda jumped 4-6 percent. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group rose 2.6 percent, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group advanced 2.5 percent and Dai-ichi Life Holdings surged 6.8 percent after longer-term U.S. Treasury yields jumped overnight.

Toshiba Corp. gained 3.4 percent after saying it is focusing on social infrastructure businesses that are resilient to a global economic slump driven by the coronavirus outbreak.

In economic news, the average of household spending in Japan fell 11.1 percent year-on-year in April, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said. That beat expectations for a drop of 15.4 percent following the 6.0 percent fall in March.

Australian markets recovered from an early slide to finish marginally higher, led by banks and energy companies. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index edged up 6.90 points, or 0.1 percent, to 5,998.70 after climbing more than 4 percent over the past four sessions. The broader All Ordinaries Index inched up by 4.50 points, 0.1 percent, to 6,116.50.

The big four banks rose between 1.6 percent and 3.4 percent. Energy stocks such as Woodside Petroleum, Origin Energy, Santos, Beach Energy and Oil Search gained 1-2 percent.

Healthcare stocks fell, with CSL, Cochlear and ResMed losing 2-3 percent. Technology stocks such as Appen and Altium fell over 4 percent.

Kogan.com soared 8.6 percent after the online shopping trader reported a surge in sales during the months of April and May amid the Covid-19 shutdown.

Seoul stocks rose sharply on hopes for a quick economic recovery after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected expansion to the trillions of euros in stimulus. The benchmark Kospi jumped 30.69 points, or 1.4 percent, to 2,181.87.

No. 2 chipmaker SK Hynix rallied 3.1 percent, top chemical maker LG Chem surged 4 percent and leading carmaker Hyundai Motor added 2.3 percent.

New Zealand shares fluctuated before finishing lower. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 Index dropped 51.14 points, or 0.5 percent, to 11,171.66. Gentrack Group slumped 4.9 percent and Pushpay Holdings lost 2.9 percent.

U.S. stocks ended mostly lower overnight as yet another round of dismal weekly jobless claims data offset new stimulus efforts in Europe to deal with the economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average inched up 0.1 percent to a three-month closing high, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.7 percent and the S&P 500 declined 0.3 percent.

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