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Asia mostly higher before U.S. jobs
[May 02, 2014]

Asia mostly higher before U.S. jobs

(Baystreet Foreign Markets Wrap (Canada) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Asian stocks were mostly higher on Friday, as markets awaited the U.S. jobs report for April due out later in the day.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index dropped 27.62 points, or 0.2%, to end the week at 14,457.51. The yen weakened against the U.S. dollar and traded at ¥102.46, up from ¥102.29 on Thursday.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index returned from holiday to spring forward 126.70 points, or 0.6%, to 22,260.67 Among the major movers, Sony Corp. fell 0.6% in Tokyo after issuing its third profit warning in six months, while Fujitsu extended gains by 3.3% following a 6.3% rally on Thursday, after it returned to profit for the fiscal year to March 2014.

Sony Corp. said Thursday it faces a bigger loss for the just-ended business year than previously expected, and slashed its operating profit outlook by two-thirds due to the costs of getting out of the money-losing personal computer business.

Analysts said Sony's third outlook cut in six months could drive away even the loyalists still believing in its promise to turn around its flagging consumer electronics business. The grim forecast also stands out from Japanese rivals in the electronics industry such as Panasonic Corp. and Fujitsu Ltd., which are returning to profit after withdrawing from unprofitable business areas.

In Hong Kong, Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings bounced back 2.5% after heavy losses in the previous session, while another index heavyweight China Mobile lost 0.8% on concerns about China's tax reform. Among casino operators, Wynn Macau jumped 4.1%, Galaxy Entertainment Group climbed 3%, and MGM China Holdings moved up 1.1%.

In Australia, top investment bank Macquarie Group advanced 0.9%, Australia and New Zealand Banking Group rose 0.8%, and Commonwealth Bank of Australia was higher by 0.6%.

An as-expected print for Japanese unemployment and a more-than-expected surge in household spending proved powerless to move the yen, with investors more focused on what next month's numbers will show.

The Finance Ministry reported that the March jobless rate was 3.6%, unchanged from February's level and matching the median forecast from a Wall Street Journal survey of economists.

Spending was more of a surprise, with consumption by households of two or more people jumping by 7.2% in March from a year earlier, after its 2.5% drop the previous month.

This was well ahead of the Wall Street Journal survey's projected rise of 1.8%, and largely reflects people rushing to make purchases ahead of the April 1 increase in the national sales tax, to 8% from 5%.

As for mainland Chinese markets, they were scheduled to resume trading on Monday after a three-day holiday.

In other markets; Korea's Kospi Index subsided 2.35 points, or 0.1%, to 1,959.44 Taiwan's Taiex Index ballooned 75.88 points, or 0.9%, to 8,867.32 The Singapore Straits Times Index subtracted 12.16 points, or 0.4%, to 3,252,55 New Zealand NZX 50 index recovered 23.70 points, or 0.5%, to 5,232.91 Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 9.29 points, or 0.2%, to 5,458.06 © 1998 - 2014 Media Corp. All rights reserved.

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