Asian shares fall ahead of U.S. jobs report
TOKYO – A reading on U.S. November nonfarm payrolls is due later Friday, and the much-watched outcome will help determine whether the Federal Reserve will start to withdraw its stimulus measures, which have supported global markets over the last year. The previous labor report exceeded forecasts, and another strong number will increase expectations of an imminent exit by the Fed.
Trading in recent sessions has been cautious ahead of the jobs figures, a trend that continued Friday. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 AU:XJO -0.23% fell 0.2% to 5,186.00, South Korea’s Kospi KR:SEU -0.22% fell 0.2% to 1980.41 and Singapore’s Strait Times Index SG:STI -0.33% was down 0.2% late in Asia.Stocks in both Hong Kong and Shanghai were also cautious before China starts releasing its monthly batch of data. Trade data will be released over the weekend and inflation numbers will follow on Monday.
The Hang Seng Index HK:HSI +0.13% rose 0.1% to 23743.10, and the Shanghai Composite CN:SHCOMP -0.44% dropped 0.4% to 2237.11.
Another sign of caution could be seen in the strengthening of the yen. The dollar USDJPY +1.02% lost a total of 0.6% Thursday to reverse a trend of weakness in the Japanese currency over the last few weeks that provided a boost to the local stock market.
On Friday, however, the dollar regained ground against the yen, and was last at ¥102.11 compared with ¥101.79 late Thursday in New York. This helped the Nikkei JP:NIK +0.81% gain 0.8% to 15299.86.Japan was one of the worst performers in Asia for the week. The Nikkei Average was 2.3% lower since last Friday as the market came down from a rally that propelled it 9.3% higher in November.
The Australian stock market also weakened, with the S&P/ASX 200 down 2.5% for the week as a flurry of upcoming initial public offerings weighed on market sentiment.
Nine Entertainment Co. fell 3.4% in its trading debut in Sydney. The free-to-air broadcaster priced its IPO earlier this week at 2.05 Australian dollars ($1.86) a share, becoming Australia’s largest IPO since 2010, when coal-hauler QR National AU:AZJ -0.85% , a railway network now known as Aurizon Holdings, listed.