Asian stocks record mixed fortunes on U.S’. economic data

Asian stocks kicked off Friday with a mixed open, as a slump on Wall Street overnight tempered risk appetite.

economic crisisApart from the closely-watched US nonfarm payrolls report due later in the day, investors are also awaiting the meeting of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) taking place in Vienna.

While markets expect the 12-nation cartel to stand pat on its output levels, traders will be on the lookout for clues on where crude oil prices may be headed. Overnight, US stocks nursed a weaker finish as volatility in bonds and a lack of resolution on Greece kept investors on edge.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 shaved off 0.9 percent each, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq closed down 0.8 percent. Japan’s Nikkei 225 index nudged down, as the dollar-yen made muted moves to trade around 124.47.

Export-oriented plays fell into the red, with the currency providing little upward momentum. Sony led losses among blue chips, with a slump of 1.2 percent. Toyota Motor and Mitsubishi Electric eased 0.6 percent each, while Toshiba inched down 0.2 percent.

Banking counters also came under selling pressure after Thursday’s upswing; Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group opened down more than 1 percent each, while Mizuho Financial Group lost 0.8 percent.

Australia’s benchmark S&P ASX 200 index reversed course to edge up 0.2 percent, after a brief negative open. Having eased 3.76 percent over the past four sessions, the Sydney bourse is on track for its worst week in 2 years.

It has been a relatively data-heavy week for the Australian market, having received a better-than-expected growth report card for the first quarter, alongside dismal retail sales and trade data for April.

Earlier in the week, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) held interest rates steady at its monthly policy meeting. Iron ore prices hitting a four-month high of USD 63.50 a tonne delivered a cheer to the mining sector. Fortescue Metals climbed 2.6 percent, while Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton opened up 0.8 and 0.3 percent, respectively.

Meanwhile, Recall Holdings is seeking to renegotiate a USD 2.2 billion deal to be acquired by Boston-based Iron Mountain, according to Australian media reports. Shares of the data protection services provider tanked 1.4 percent at the start of trade. South Korea’s Kospi index declined amid a broad-based selloff.

The bourse’s top weighted stock Samsung Electronics opened down 0.3 percent, a day after jumping 5 percent. The swift move in Samsung’s share price on Thursday was largely due to comments from US-based hedge fund Elliott, which opposed the all-stock takeover offer from Cheil Industries for affiliate Samsung C&T Corp.

Cheil Industries is Samsung Group’s de facto holding company. Meanwhile, Samsung C&T announced Thursday that it won a USD 682.3 million deal to build a road in Australia. Shares of Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T extended robust gains in early Friday trade, up 1.8 and 5 percent, respectively.

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