Asian trading subdued ahead of US jobs data that may signal recovery ahead, Japan holidays

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TOKYO – Global markets were mixed Friday ahead of a release of key U.S. jobs data, with the benchmark for the Tokyo Stock Exchange closing little changed.

The Nikkei slid 0.2 per cent to finish at 14,457.51, as market players remained cautious ahead of a four-day weekend. Monday and Tuesday are national holidays in Japan. The Kospi lost 0.1 per cent to 1,959.44. The Hang Seng added 0.6 per cent to 22,260.67.

Share prices fell in Singapore and Indonesia, while they rose in Malaysia, Thailand and the Philippines.

Britain’s FTSE 100 inched up less than 0.1 per cent in early trading to 6,814.18, but France’s CAC-40 edged down 0.3 per cent to 4,471.95.

Market moves were cautious in anticipation of the release of U.S. government nonfarm payrolls report for April, which could show signs of an economic recovery.

The figures, which often set the market tone for a week or two after their release, may have a big impact as they come in the wake of significantly lower than expected U.S. economic growth in the first quarter and the Fed’s ongoing reduction in its monetary stimulus.

Thursday’s manufacturing survey from the Institute for Supply Management echoed other findings showing that the U.S. economy rebounded strongly in March and April. Most economists expect Friday’s payrolls data to be solid too, with about 220,000 jobs created during April.

Overnight on Wall Street, share prices did not keep rising after three straight days of gains, as players took a wait-and-see attitude.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell less than 0.1 per cent to 1,883.68. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 21.97 points to 16,558.87. The Dow had closed at an all-time high on Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite rose or 0.3 per cent to 4,127.45.

The future for the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.08 per cent at 16,501.01 on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Much of the world was on holiday for May Day on Thursday.

In Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 was the only major index to be traded, and it closed 0.4 per cent higher at 6,808.87.

The euro was trading at $1.3856, little changed from $1.3866 late Thursday, while the dollar cost 102.42 yen, up from 102.33 yen.

“Investors treaded cautiously ahead of the jobs report later tonight” said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

In the oil markets, a barrel of benchmark crude was up 43 cents at $99.85.

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