Asia shares mixed ahead of US jobs

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mixed on Thursday as profit-taking tempered the buoyant sentiment fuelled by another record-breaking performance on Wall Street.

Investors are now keeping their focus on the release later in the day of key US jobs figures, hoping for further signs a recovery in the world's number-one economy is picking up strength. Tokyo ended 0.14 per cent lower, edging down 21.68 points to 15,348.29 after rising more than 1.5 per cent over the previous three days. Seoul lost 0.21 per cent, or 4.31 points, to close at 2,010.97, while Hong Kong was marginally lower, giving up 18.18 points to 23,531.44.

However, Sydney added 0.66 per cent, or 35.8 points, to 5,491.2 and Shanghai closed 0.19 per cent higher, adding 3.81 points to 2,063.23. Regional shares have enjoyed a broad rally this week, helped by data suggesting Chinese manufacturing is getting back on track.

Global shares have been on an upward course for much of the week and were given an extra lift by a positive report on private jobs on Wednesday. Payrolls company ADP said that the private sector added a better-than-expected 281,000 jobs in June, surging from 179,000 in May.

The news lifted sentiment ahead of the release on Thursday of the Labor Department's non-farm payrolls data, which is used as a barometer of the wider economy. US shares extended on Tuesday's gains. On Wall Street the Dow added 0.12 per cent and the S&P 500 was marginally higher, both hitting records for a second successive day. The Nasdaq was flat.

In foreign exchange trade the gains on equity markets lifted confidence, which provided support to higher risk, higher-yielding units. The dollar bought 101.91 yen in afternoon Tokyo trade compared with 101.77 yen in New York on Wednesday. The yen, which is considered a safe bet in times of uncertainty, has slipped over the past week on Monday it touched 101.23 against the dollar, its highest level since late May.

The euro bought $1.3659 and 139.22 yen against $1.3658 and 138.99 yen. Oil extended losses in Asia on prospects that Libya will begin exporting more crude into a global market flush with supplies. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate eased 43 cents to $104.05 while Brent crude for August was down 63 cents at $110.61.

Gold fetched $1,320.46 an ounce at 0800 GMT compared with $1,326.03 late on Wednesday. Taipei added 0.44 per cent, or 41.27 points, to 9,526.23. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. put on 1.51 per cent to Tw$134.5 while Hon Hai was 0.97 per cent higher at Tw$104.0. Wellington rose 0.35 per cent, or 18.01 points, to 5,167.39. Air New Zealand was up 1.4 per cent at NZ$2.17 and Fletcher Building lifted 0.91 per cent to NZ$8.85. Manila closed 0.71 per cent higher, adding 48.71 points to 6,899.31.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 0.74 per cent to 3,000.00 pesos, Universal Robina added 1.69 per cent to 156.00 pesos and SM Investments inched up 0.06 per cent to 809.50 pesos.

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