Asia stocks subdued ahead of US jobs report critical for Fed

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

TOKYO (AP) — Asian shares were subdued Friday ahead of a U.S. jobs report that's likely to influence whether the Federal Reserve raises interest rates in December.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 added 0.6 percent to 19,242.14 while South Korea's Kospi inched down 0.4 percent to 2,041.15. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.8 percent at 22,872.70. But the Shanghai Composite in mainland China was up 0.5 percent to 3,541.02. Other regional markets were mixed, rising in Australia and Thailand and falling in Taiwan and Singapore.

JOBS REPORT: Analysts are forecasting that U.S. employers added 185,000 jobs and the unemployment rate held steady at 5.1 percent in October. A solid report would suggest the world's biggest economy is shrugging off slower growth overseas and will likely give the Fed confidence to raise short-term interest rates in December. Interest rates have been at record lows since the 2008 financial crisis. Testifying before a committee of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, Fed Chair Janet Yellen described the U.S. economy as "performing well" and said an interest rate hike in December was a "live possibility."

THE QUOTE: "U.S. jobs report is the key event risk today. Non-farm payroll, along with unemployment rate and wages, will get special attention," said Cynthia Jane Kalasopatan at Mizuno Bank in Singapore.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average lost 4.15 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 17,863.43 on Thursday. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 2.38 points, or 0.1 percent, to 2,099.93. The Nasdaq composite fell 14.74 points, or 0.3 percent, to 5,127.74.

ENERGY: In energy markets, U.S. crude oil added 25 cents to $45.45 a barrel in electronic trading in New York. Brent crude, which is a benchmark for international oils, rose 26 cents to $48.24 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The U.S. dollar was trading at 121.81 yen, up from 121.49 yen on Thursday. The euro slipped to $1.0880 from $1.0885.