Asian markets were mostly lower in nervous trading Friday ahead of a closely watched U.S. jobs report that may influence interest rate decisions and the value of the U.S. dollar.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged down 0.8 percent to 16,014.19 as Tokyo resumed trading after the three-day “Golden Week” national holidays. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.1 percent higher to 5,349.50, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 1 percent to 20,247.21. The Shanghai Composite inched down 0.1 percent to 2,995.01. Markets were closed in South Korea for a national holiday.
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 9.45 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 17,660.71. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 0.49 of a point, less than 0.1 percent, to 2,050.63 and the Nasdaq composite lost 8.55 points, or 0.2 percent, to 4,717.09.
The market’s focus is turning to the U.S. jobs report for April, due out later in the day. Investors are watching to see if it might affect the Federal Reserve’s plans for raising interest rates at its next policy meeting in June. Economists expect the report to show jobs grew by 200,000 last month while the unemployment rate stayed at 5 percent.
“The key theme this week has been that the U.S. dollar managed to hold on to its gains across major currencies,” said Alex Wijaya, senior sales trader & institutional sales at CMC Markets Singapore. “The biggest question is how the U.S. dollar will perform tonight in light of the U.S. non-farm payrolls announcement.”
Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 8 cents to $44.24 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 54 cents on Thursday to $44.32 a barrel. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 3 cents at $44.98 a barrel in London.
The euro fell to $1.1405 from $1.1490 and the dollar rose to 107.13 yen from 107.10 yen.