Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday despite broadly positive cues from Wall Street overnight. Focus shifted to key U.S. jobs data due later in the day after Fed Vice Chair Richard Clarida said conditions for an interest rate hike could be met in late 2022.
Chinese shares ended a tad lower amid virus and regulatory woes. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dipped 8.32 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,458.23, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index ended marginally lower at 26, 179.40.
Japanese shares eked out modest gains as the country expanded COVID-19 curbs to more than 70 percent of its population. The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 91.92 points, or 0.3 percent, to 27,820.04, while the broader Topix finished marginally higher at 1,929.34.
Konami Holdings, Nikon and Fujikura jumped 7-16 percent, while Kawasaki Kisen Kaisha, Sumco, Sharp Corp and Kobe Steel lost 4-10 percent.
In economic news, average household spending in Japan was down 5.1 percent year-on-year in June, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications said, coming in at 260,285 yen. That was well shy of expectations for an increase of 0.1 percent and down sharply from the 11.6 percent spike in May.
Australian markets fluctuated before ending at a record high as RBA Governor Philip Lowe signaled a willingness to respond if the Covid-19 situation worsens.
The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 27.30 points, or 0.4 percent, to 7,538.40, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended up 26.90 points, or 0.4 percent, at 7,806.50.
BHP lost 2 percent as its board approved $544 million in capital spending to execute the Shenzi North oil project in the U.S. Gulf of Mexico.
Fortescue Metals Group, Mineral Resources and Rio Tinto fell between 1 percent and 1.6 percent as iron ore prices plunged over fears of further output restrictions at steel mills in China.
Gold miners Evolution Mining, Regis Resources, Newcrest and Northern Star Resources lost 1-3 percent.
Seoul stocks fell for a second straight session as sentiment was dented on concerns about the spared of the new Covid-19 variant. The benchmark Kospi dipped 5.77 points, or 0.2 percent, to 3,270.36. SK Hynix and LG Chem both fell about 1.7 percent.
New Zealand shares rose slightly as normal trading resumed after a truncated session the previous day due to a technical issue. The benchmark NZX-50 Index inched up 15.67 points, or 0.1 percent, to 12,770.
Z Energy shares jumped 5.5 percent after reports that the company has called in investment bankers Goldman Sachs to advise it on handling potential offers.
U.S. stocks advanced overnight after data showed weekly unemployment claims declined for a second week.
The tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite climbed 0.8 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.6 percent to reach new record closing highs on solid earnings, while the Dow rose 0.8 percent.
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