HONG KONG – Asian markets were mixed Thursday, with sentiment buoyed by more impressive jobs data from the United States but Tokyo struggled in the morning after the dollar fell back below the 100 yen mark in New York.
Bargain-buyers also provided some support after Hong Kong and Sydney suffered big losses in the previous session, but traders’ main focus is the release Friday of US non-farm payrolls figures.
Tokyo slipped 0.10 percent and Shanghai eased 0.38 percent but Hong Kong added 1.42 percent, Sydney was 0.99 percent higher and Seoul put on 0.35 percent.
Wall Street ended in positive territory on Wednesday in shortened trade ahead of the July 4 Independence Day holiday.
US payrolls firm ADP estimated that 188,000 private-sector jobs were generated in June, up from its May reading of 134,000 and above the 137,000 average for March-May, when the economy went through a dip.
Also, the Labor Department said weekly new claims for unemployment compensation, a signal of the pace of layoffs, fell to 343,000 in the week ending Friday, 5,000 below the previous week.
The Dow rose 0.38 percent, the S&P 500 edged up 0.08 percent and the Nasdaq added 0.30 percent.
The news points to a positive result for the broader figures on Friday, with investors using the data as a gauge of what the US Federal Reserve will do with its massive bond-buying scheme, known as quantitative easing (QE).
“How the markets react (to Friday’s jobs data) is anyone’s guess. Good news might be bad news for the markets as anything that argues for the Fed to end QE sooner rather than later is not appreciated,” said Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors.
“But even that reaction will likely change since good news is, well, good news.”
On forex markets the dollar edged back up against the yen after falling back in New York in thin trade.
The greenback bought 99.91 yen in early trade, from 99.86 yen in New York late Wednesday.
The euro fetched $1.3001 and 130.01 yen against $1.3010 and 129.93 yen.
As the mood looks more upbeat in the US economy, Europe’s woes returned to the fore after the foreign minister of debt-wracked Portugal resigned over the country’s painful austerity measure put in place for a bailout.
While the prime minister did not accept the resignation, the move shocked the coalition government a day after the sudden departure of its finance minister.
Turbulence in Egypt continued to support oil prices after Mohamed Morsi declared the army had carried out a full coup following his ouster as president on Wednesday.
The troubles have raised concerns about oil tankers’ passage through the crucial Suez canal.
In early trade New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in August, was up 13 cents at $101.37 a barrel — the contract broke the $100 level in New York for the first time in a year Wednesday.
Brent North Sea crude for August gained 15 cents to $105.91.
Gold was at $1,252.70 per ounce at 0210 GMT, compared with $1,245.50 late Wednesday.