Asia Subdued Ahead of U.S. Jobs Report

Stocks in Asia were muted on Friday ahead of the release of the U.S. non-farm payrolls report, which may provide clues as on whether the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at its July monetary policy meeting.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 gained 43.93 points, or 0.2%, to 21,746.38

The Japanese yen traded at 107.94 against the U.S. dollar after touching a high of 107.77 earlier

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index dropped 20.94 points, or 0.1%, to 28,774.83

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Kospi finished its trading day fractionally higher, as shares of industry heavyweight Samsung Electronics fell 0.76% after reporting that second-quarter profit likely dropped 56% as compared to a year ago.

Australian markets closed higher as most of the sectors advanced. the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7017 U.S. after slipping from levels around $0.704 in the previous session.

Investors awaited the release of the non-farm payrolls report stateside later in the day, with economists expecting U.S. private payroll employment to have grown by 153,000 in June. That compares to a figure of 90,000 from the previous month. Total non-farm employment is expected to have changed by 160,000.

A weaker-than-expected figure from the upcoming payrolls report could increase bets that the Fed will cut interest rates at its meeting on July 30 and 31.

In other markets

In Shanghai, the CSI 300 regained 20.1 points, or 0.5%, to 3,893.20.

In Korea, the Kospi index added 1.86 points, or 0.1%, to 2,110.59

In Singapore, the Straits Times Index slipped 5.44 points, or 0.2%, to 3,366.81

In Taiwan, the Taiex Index faded 9.83 points, or 0.1%, to 10,785.73

In New Zealand, the NZX 50 gained 57.19 points, or 0.5%, to 10,615.47

In Australia, the ASX 200 progressed 33.2 points, or 0.5%, to 6,751.29