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Asian shares mixed as dealers return from break

Asia's markets were mixed on Friday as dealers returned from the May Day break to healthy manufacturing data from the United States and China as well as an upbeat assessment of the US economy.

HONG KONG: Asia's markets were mixed on Friday as dealers returned from the May Day break to healthy manufacturing data from the United States and China as well as an upbeat assessment of the US economy.

Traders were keeping an eye on the release of US jobs figures due later in the day, while a recent batch of strong indicators helped the dollar edge up against the yen.

Tokyo eased 0.19 percent, after rallying 1.27 percent on Thursday. The Nikkei gave up 27.62 points to finish at 14,457.51, while Seoul slipped 0.12 percent, or 2.35 points, to 1,959.44.

Sydney added 0.17 percent, or 9.3 points, to 5,458.1 and Hong Kong rose 0.57 percent, or 126.70 points, to 22,260.67.

Shanghai was closed for a public holiday.

The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday said the world's number one economy was picking up after a severe winter that saw growth slow to just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of the year.

The central bank said that with the cold weather now behind it, the country would likely enjoy a recovery, adding that it would further reduce its stimulus programme by $10 billion a month to $45 billion.

On Thursday China said its official measurement of manufacturing activity improved in April for a second straight month. The official purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 50.4, the National Bureau of Statistics said, up from 50.3 in March.

A reading above 50 indicates growth and anything below points to contraction.

That was followed later in the day by a report from the US Institute for Supply Management that showed its PMI at 54.9 last month from 53.7 in March, beating analysts' consensus estimate of 54.5.

Other data from Washington on Thursday showed a jump in consumer spending. The focus is now on Friday's non-farm payrolls figures for April, with tentative expectations that they will show the economy is rebounding after the near-stall in the first quarter.

On Wall Street the Dow slipped 0.13 percent after hitting a record high following the Fed announcement on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 was flat and the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 0.31 percent.

The dollar bought 102.49 yen in Tokyo from 102.30 yen in New York Thursday, while the euro fetched $1.3855 and 141.97 yen compared with $1.3867 and 141.89 yen.

Oil prices rose. New York's West Texas Intermediate for June delivery was up 40 cents at $99.82 a barrel in afternoon trade, and Brent North Sea crude for June climbed 36 cents to $108.12.

Gold fetched $1,285.81 at 1045 GMT compared with $1,282.76 on Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Bangkok rose 0.46 percent, or 6.54 points, to 1,421.48.

Coal producer Banpu gained 1.67 percent or 0.50 baht to 30.50 baht, but energy giant PTT Plc fell 1.28 percent or 4.00 baht to 309.00 baht.

-- Jakarta inched down 0.03 percent, or 1,39 points, to 4,838,76.

Cement maker Indocement Tunggal Prakarsa fell 2.28 percent to 21,450 rupiah, while cigarette maker Gudang Garam rose 1.42 percent to 57,300 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur fell 0.13 percent, or 2.4 points, to 1,869.08.

Maybank shed 0.2 percent to 9.88 ringgit, CIMB lost 1.2 percent 7.42 and Gamuda slipped 0.4 percent to 4.59 ringgit.

-- Manila closed 0.52 percent higher, adding 35.06 points to 6,742.97.

SM Prime Holdings gained 1.84 percent to 16.62 pesos, BDO Unibank rose 0.51 percent to 88.70 pesos and SM Investments was up 0.34 percent at 727.50 pesos.

-- Mumbai slipped 0.06 percent, or 13.91 points, to finish at 22,403.89 points.

Jindal Steel fell 6.50 percent to 238.90 rupees while Pipavav Defence slid 4.92 percent to 45.40 rupees.

-- Singapore gave up 0.37 percent to 3,252.55.

Singapore Telecom slid 1.04 percent to Sg$3.79 and DBS Bank rose 0.23 percent to Sg$17.17.

-- Taipei climbed 0.86 percent, or 75.88 points, to 8,867.32.

Hon Hai rose 2.54 percent to Tw$88.8 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. fell 0.42 percent to Tw$118.0.

-- Wellington added 0.46 percent, or 23.70 points, to 5,232.91.

Air New Zealand advanced 1.91 percent to NZ$2.13 and Fletcher Building gained 0.21 percent to NZ$9.77.

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