Asia’s benchmark stock index fluctuated as Japanese traders returned from a three-day holiday and investors awaited the monthly U.S. jobs report for clues on the strength of the world’s largest economy.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slid 0.2 percent to 127.25 as of 9:10 a.m. in Tokyo after rising as much as 0.2 percent. The measure is heading for a 3 percent weekly loss. Equity markets across the region have fallen this week, while the yen has weakened since Japanese stocks last traded on Monday. South Korea, Indonesia, and Thailand are closed for holidays.
“It’s not as bad as it could have been with Japan coming back, and that’s been helped by a bit of weakening in the yen during the past couple of days,” Angus Nicholson, a Melbourne-based market analyst at IG Ltd., said by phone. “If we see a strong non-farm payrolls number tonight it will help the dollar move in the right direction and help Japanese equities.”
The global equity rally is faltering as investors gauge prospects for higher U.S. interest rates amid persistent signs of tepid to slowing growth in major economies. While Fed officials signaled in recent days that borrowing costs could rise as soon as June, futures traders assign only a 10 percent probability for such a move after recent data indicated the U.S. economy remains sluggish.
Japan’s Topix index rose 0.1 percent. The yen traded at 107.30 per dollar.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1.2 percent. Shares of Macquarie Group Ltd. added 0.5 percent after the nation’s largest investment bank said full-year profit climbed 29 percent to a record, boosted by its asset management and lending unit.
New Zealand’s S&P/NZX 50 Index slid 0.2 percent.
Futures on Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index fell 0.1 percent and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in the city retreated 0.2 percent. China trade data are due this weekend.
Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Asia’s largest Internet company, posted a 39 percent surge in revenue as China’s dominant e-commerce operator shrugged off a slowing economy with promotions to woo cash-rich consumers.
Futures on the S&P 500 slipped less than 0.1 percent after the underlying U.S. equity gauge closed little changed on Thursday.