HONG KONG- Asian markets mostly rose on Friday and the dollar held on to its New York gains after better-than-expected jobs data raised hopes for a strong payrolls report later in the day.
While the crisis in Ukraine is still to be resolved, investors are focused on economic fundamentals, with confidence boosted by upbeat comments on the eurozone from the European Central Bank (ECB), while Wall Street saw another record close.
Tokyo rose 0.92 percent, or 139.32 points, to 15,274.07 and Sydney added 0.30 percent, or 16.4 points, to 5,462.3 while Seoul finish flat, edging down 0.94 points to 1974.68 owing to a late sell-off.
Shanghai edged a touch lower, dipping 1.67 points to end at 2,057.91 while in late trade Hong Kong was marginally higher.
In the United States, the Labor Department said first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to a three-month low of 323,000 from the prior week’s revised reading of 349,000. Analysts had expected the claims to fall to just 338,000.
The figure was a “sign companies are holding on to their staff even as cold weather threatens to slow the world’s largest economy”, said Spreadex analyst Lee Mumford.
It also provided hope that Friday’s closely watched non-farm payrolls report for February will show a sharp improvement from the previous two months, which came in well below forecasts owing to a severe winter snap across most of the country.
The S&P 500 rose 0.17 percent to a record high and the Dow added 0.38 percent, but the Nasdaq dipped 0.13 percent.