HONG KONG (AP) – Asian stock markets were muted on Friday as investors waited for a U.S. jobs report that could influence whether the U.S. Federal Reserve chooses October or December for its first interest rate hike in nearly a decade.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.1 percent to 17,735.78 while South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.2 percent to 1,975.04. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rebounded after a holiday, jumping 2.7 percent to 21,415.01 in a delayed reaction to a report that showed a small improvement in Chinese manufacturing. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 1.3 percent to 5,045.40. Markets in mainland China are closed for holidays until Oct. 8. Stock benchmarks in Southeast Asia were lower.
JOBS REPORT: With no major regional economic data due, Asian investors were focused on Friday’s U.S. employment report. Employers in the world’s biggest economy are expected to have added a healthy 206,000 jobs in September, resulting in the unemployment rate holding steady at 5.1 percent, according to analysts’ forecasts. The numbers are taken into consideration by the Fed as it mulls raising interest rates from record low levels, with its next decision scheduled for Oct. 28. The following policy meeting is in December. However, there are worries a rate hike could also add to uncertainty in global financial markets as many countries struggle with slower than average economic growth.
ANALYST INSIGHT: “We will spend today patiently waiting for the latest set of U.S. payrolls data, which may tell us how much longer we have to wait for the Fed to deliver a monetary policy tightening that most of the global economy is simply not ready for,” Rabobank analyst Michael Every said in a commentary.
WALL STREET: Major U.S. indexes ended little changed after a day of aimless trading. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.1 percent to close at 16,272.01 while the Standard & Poor’s 500 added 0.2 percent to 1,923.82. The Nasdaq composite inched up 0.2 percent to 4,627.08.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude oil rose 54 cents to $ 45.28 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 35 cents to close at $ 44.74 a barrel in New York on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, added 32 cents to $ 48.70 in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 119.98 yen from 119.86 yen in the previous trading session. The euro fell to $ 1.1178 from $ 1.1189.