Stocks Climb in Asia, Awaiting U.S. Jobs Report

Asia markets rose across the board on Friday, ahead of the crucial U.S. nonfarm payrolls data due later in the global day.

The Nikkei 225 index leaped 62.15 points, or 0.3%, to finish the week at 20,690.71

The Hang Seng Index returned from holiday to gain 78.86 points, or 0.2%, to 28.458.04

Several markets, including South Korea and China, remained shut this week for public holidays.

Australian markets gained ground, with all but the utilities sector closing in positive territory.

The heavily weighted financial subindex rose 1.1% as the country's so-called Big Four banks advanced. Shares of ANZ rose 1.3%

Commonwealth Bank was up 1.3%, Westpac was higher by 1.3% and National Australia Bank climbed 1.1%.

Among the currency majors, the Japanese yen traded at 113 to the U.S. dollar, weakening from an earlier high of 112.74.

The Australian dollar fetched $0.7761 U.S., slipping from an earlier high of $0.7798. The drop in the Aussie came after Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) board member Ian Harper said in a Wall Street Journal interview that while the recent slump in the country's retail sales is not a cause for immediate concern, the RBA hadn't entirely ruled out further interest rate cuts.

Harper said that if household income growth loses momentum, that might be the basis for "some sort of policy action," according to the report.

At its meeting earlier this week, the Australian central bank left the cash rate unchanged at a record low of 1.5% for the 14th straight month.

In other markets

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index added 14.54 points, or 0.1%, to 10,532.81

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index spiked 29.45 points, or 0.9%, to 3,291.29

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 eked up 2.64 points to 7,977.34

In Australia, the ASX 200 picked up 58.91 points, or 1%, to 5,710.68