- POSTED: 10 Jan 2014 17:02
- UPDATED: 10 Jan 2014 19:06
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Asian markets were mixed on Friday following another weak lead from Wall Street as investors await the release of key US jobs data, while Shanghai eased after China said its trade surplus shrank in December.
HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed on Friday following another weak lead from Wall Street as investors await the release of key US jobs data, while Shanghai eased after China said its trade surplus shrank in December.
The euro edged back up against the dollar and yen after a brief fall on Thursday, fuelled by a warning from the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) that the eurozone economy remained fragile.
Tokyo rebounded from earlier losses, thanks to a pick-up in the dollar against the yen. The Nikkei ended 0.20 per cent, or 31.73 points, higher at 15,912.06 and Hong Kong closed up 0.26 per cent, or 58.92 points, to 22,846.25.
However, Seoul finished down 0.39 per cent, shedding 7.57 points to 1,938.54 and Sydney eased 0.23 per cent, or 12.0 points, to 5,312.4.
Shanghai fell 0.71 per cent, or 14.32 points, to 2,013.30.
With the US Federal Reserve holding its next policy meeting at the end of the month, investors are closely monitoring Friday's jobs data to see if it will give the central bank more ammunition to further cut its stimulus.
The Fed's most recent meeting saw it reduce its bond-buying scheme by US$10 billion a month to US$75 billion from January, citing a pick-up in the world's number one economy.
On Wall Street, the three main indexes ended mostly lower, with disappointing earnings from retailers adding some downward pressure.
The Dow fell 0.11 per cent, the S&P 500 edged up 0.03 per cent and the Nasdaq eased 0.23 per cent.
On forex markets, the euro held its own after suffering a sell-off on Thursday in response to ECB head Mario Draghi's warning over the eurozone economy, as recent data spurred fears of deflation similar to that suffered by Japan in the past decade.
After announcing the bank would keep interest rates on hold despite the low inflation figures, Draghi said the bloc's "recovery is there, but it is weak, modest and fragile".
He added that there remained "several risks -- financial, economic, geopolitical, political -- that could undermine easily this recovery".
In a bid to soothe markets, Draghi said the ECB was still "determined to maintain the high degree of monetary accommodation and to take further decisive action if required".
The single currency slipped soon after the comments on Thursday -- tumbling to 142.00 yen and US$1.3548 at one point -- before staging a rebound later in the day to 142.58 yen and US$1.3606.
In afternoon Tokyo trade on Friday, it fetched 142.78 yen and US$1.3608.
The dollar was changing hands at 104.95 yen compared with 104.79 yen in New York.
Investors were also digesting figures showing China's trade surplus narrowed in December by 17.4 per cent to US$25.64 billion. Exports grew just 4.3 per cent year on-year during the month, much slower than the 12.7 per cent jump seen in November.
However, the data did show that China's total trade broke the US$4 trillion mark for the first time.
The results came a day after the government announced inflation in 2013 came in at 2.6 per cent, well below the government's target ceiling of 3.5 per cent and reducing the chances of monetary tightening anytime soon.
In oil trade, New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was up 89 cents to US$92.55 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent North crude for February gained 50 cents to US$106.89.
Gold fetched US$1,233.53 at 1045 GMT compared with US$1,226.19 late Thursday.
In other markets, Bangkok lost 0.22 per cent, or 2.81 points, to 1,255.45; Jakarta climbed 1.28 per cent, or 53.75 points, to 4,254.97; Kuala Lumpur ended flat, losing 1.6 points to close at 1,826.61; Taipei rose 0.17 per cent, or 14.67 points, to 8,529.35; Manila tumbled 1.59 per cent, or 94.63 points, to 5,842.88; Wellington added 1.03 per cent, or 49.52 points, to 4,864.39; and Mumbai rose 0.22 per cent, or 45.12 points, to 20,758.49.