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Asian Markets Rise; Alibaba’s Hong Kong Shares Dip Despite Strong Quarterly Performance

Asia Pacific stocks rose on Friday following the release of mixed U.S. economic data overnight.

South Korean markets attempted to bounce from Thursday’s losses as the Kospi gained 1.34% to close at 2,304.59. Shares in the country have seen a choppy trading week as South Korea has seen a recent jump in coronavirus cases.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher on the day. The Shanghai composite advanced 0.5% to about 3,380.68 while the Shenzhen component jumped 1.179% to around 13,478. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.3%, as of its final hour of trading.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.17% to close at 22,920.30 while the Topix index added 0.3% to end its trading day at 1,604.06. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.14% lower at 6,111.20.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index gained 0.96%.

The U.S. Labor Department said Thursday that initial weekly jobless claims stateside came in above 1 million. That was higher than a Dow Jones estimate of 923,000. Still, continuing claims — those receiving unemployment benefits for at least two straight weeks — continued to decline.

Highlighting the decline in the continuing jobless claims, Francis Tan of UOB Private Bank told CNBC’s “Street Signs” Friday that the figure has “been ignored.” He added that that investors should look at the daily changes in the virus situation to determine where the economy could be going forward.

“I think that going forward, the initial jobless claims should go back down below 1 million again,” said Tan, an investment strategist at the firm. He cited factors such as the daily increment of coronavirus cases in the southern region of the U.S. —which “has been contributing a lot to the Covid-19 cases” — going down.

Meanwhile, shares of Alibaba listed in Hong Kong fell back into negative territory as they shed 0.31%. The move downward came despite the Chinese tech behemoth announcing a 34% on-year increase in revenue in the quarter ended June 30.

In a media release announcing the quarterly results, Alibaba Group Chief Financial Officer Maggie Wu said the firm’s “domestic core commerce business has fully recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels across the board.”

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 92.635 after seeing levels below 92.4 earlier in the trading week.

The Japanese yen traded at 105.53 per dollar after touching levels above 106 against the greenback yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7185, in a turbulent trading week that has seen it from levels above $0.724 to below $0.716.

Oil prices were lower in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.2% at $44.81 per barrel. U.S. crude futures advanced 0.37% to $42.66 per barrel.