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Asian stocks mostly up ahead of US jobs data

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian markets were mostly higher Friday as traders awaited the release of US jobs data, while Tokyo took a hit as the dollar fell a day after breaking through the 100-yen level.

The gains came after another positive lead from Wall Street, with economists expecting a healthy rise in employment will give the US Federal Reserve another reason to begin winding down its huge stimulus programme.

But Tokyo tumbled 1.45 percent, or 204.01 points, to 13,860.81, with speculation that the capital would fail in its bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games adding to downward pressure.

Hong Kong rose 0.10 percent, or 23.25 points, to 22,621.22 and Shanghai climbed 0.83 percent, adding 17.56 points to 2,139.99.

Sydney was flat, edging up 2.5 points to end at 5,145 and Seoul finished 0.19 percent, or 3.66 points, up at 1,955.31.

Profit-taking also capped buying at the end of a strong week for global markets fuelled by healthy manufacturing data from China, Europe and the United States.

Analysts say Friday's US non-farm payrolls data will likely play a big role in the Fed's next move.

While a strong figure would provide more evidence the world's top economy is on the road to recovery, it would also signal the beginning of the end of the Fed's year-old bond-buying scheme, which has fuelled an investment drive in emerging economies.

Developing nations that benefited from the US central bank's largesse -- which led to record low interest rates at home -- have seen their stock markets and currencies plummet in recent weeks as foreigners repatriate their cash.

"Tonight's jobs report is highly crucial in helping the US Federal Reserve decide whether to taper stimulus or not at (its next policy meeting) later this month," said Tim Radford, global analyst at trading firm Rivkin.

"The lack of direction in US markets overnight highlighted the cautious nature of investors... with lingering concerns over Syria lurking in the background also weighing," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

The Dow edged up 0.04 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.12 percent and the Nasdaq put on 0.27 percent.

Radford added: "Regardless of the (US jobs) result... there should be plenty of confusion in the market following the data release."

Tokyo, which had gained about five percent this week, slipped as the yen rebounded against the dollar.

The greenback, which on Thursday broke above 100 yen for the first time since July, dipped to 99.77 yen in European trade, compared with 100.12 yen late in New York.

The euro bought $1.3106 and 130.74 yen compared with $1.3117 and 131.35 yen.

Dealers were also on edge because of fears of a US-led military strike on Syria, with Western powers accusing the Damascus regime of using chemical weapons on its own civilians.

Tensions over the Middle East increased on Thursday after the US envoy to the United Nations accused Russia of holding the UN Security Council hostage over the crisis.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in October, rose 24 cents to $108.61, while Brent North Sea crude for October added five cents to $115.32.

Gold cost $1,368.10 an ounce at 1040 GMT compared with $1,395.70 late Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei ended flat, edging down 4.90 points to 8,164.2.

PC maker Acer fell 0.99 percent to Tw$20.1 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. rose 0.49 percent to Tw$102.0.

-- Manila advanced 0.26 percent, or 15.40 points, to 5,974.62.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone added 0.86 percent to 2,810 pesos, while SM Investments advanced 1.47 percent to 692 pesos and Alliance Global was up 0.57 percent at 26.25 pesos.

-- Wellington fell 0.16 percent, or 7.17 points, to 4,597.18.

Telecom added 0.23 percent to N$2.21, while Fletcher Building fell 1.4 percent to NZ$9.28 and Fisher & Paykel Healthcare shed 2.5 percent to NZ$3.58.

-- Singapore closed up 0.29 percent, or 8.90 points, at 3,048.35.

Agribusiness company Wilmar International gained 0.65 percent to Sg$3.10 while United Overseas Bank shed 0.50 percent to Sg$20.06.

-- Jakarta ended up 0.53 percent, or 21.49 points, at 4,072.35.

Cement maker Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa rose 4.28 percent to 19,500 rupiah, while Asia Pacific Fibers fell 3.03 percent to 96 rupiah.

-- Bangkok added 1.73 percent, or 22.76 points, to 1,336.25.

Import and export firm Berli Jucker jumped 10.96 percent to 40.50 baht, while telecoms company True Corporation gained 5.47 percent to 6.75 baht.

-- Kuala Lumpur gained 0.16 percent, or 2.83 points, to 1,723.80.

YTL rose 0.7 percent to 1.52 ringgit, while Hap Seng Consolidated added 1.4 percent to 2.13. AirAsia lost 3.1 percent to 2.50 ringgit.

-- Mumbai rose 1.53 percent, or 290.30 points, to 19,270.06.

Private bank ICICI rose 7.37 percent to 959.0 rupees while state-run oil explorer Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) rose 7.17 percent to 289.15 rupees, on hopes of a hike in diesel prices.

dan/jah

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130906/asian-stocks-mostly-ahead-us-jobs-data-1