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Asian Stocks Pause Rally on Anticipation of U.S Jobs Data

Stocks in Asia Pacific mostly dipped in Friday morning trade as investors await the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report expected later in the day stateside.

Mainland Chinese stocks declined in early trade, with the Shanghai composite down 0.15% while the Shenzhen component slipped 0.173%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index shed 0.23%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 dipped 0.4% in morning trade while the Topix index shed 0.41%. South Korea’s Kospi, on the other hand, added 0.46%.

Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.35%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.23% lower.

Developments on economic stimulus as countries attempt to recover from the coronavirus pandemic likely continued to be watched. The European Central Bank on Thursday announced an increase in its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme by 600 billion euros.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite saw their first decline in five sessions.

The moves on Wall Street came as the Labor Department said 1.877 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, higher than a Dow Jones estimate of 1.775 million. Investors will now look ahead to the Labor Department’s monthly jobs report release, expected at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday.

“Every single leading indicator for non-farm payrolls that we follow signal fewer job losses but a number of these reports saw only small improvements which means that non-farm payrolls, while better could miss expectations,” Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, wrote in a note.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 96.791 following an earlier low of 96.715.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.09 per dollar after weakening from levels below 108 earlier in the trading week. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.694 following its rise from levels below $0.68 seen earlier this week.

Oil prices dipped in the morning of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures down 0.48% to $39.80 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also shed 0.78% to $37.12 per barrel.