Investing.com - Asian stock markets were mixed in holiday-thinned trade on Thursday, as investors digested an upbeat report on China’s manufacturing sector and following the Federal Reserve’s decision to taper its monthly bond-buying program by $10 billion for the fourth consecutive meeting.
During late Asian trade, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.73% lower, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended up 1.27%. Markets in Hong Kong, China and South Korea remained closed for the May 1 holiday.
Asia was given a positive lead from the U.S., where the Dow ended at an all-time high after the Fed decided to reduce its monthly bond buying program by $10 billion to a total of $45 billion a month, citing strength in the U.S. economy.
Meanwhile, data released earlier showed that China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers’ index inched up to 50.4 in April, just below an expectation of 50.5, and higher than the 50.3 reported last month.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei ended sharply higher as traders assessed corporate earnings.
Fujitsu (6702.TOK) rallied 6.3% after swinging back to the black for the just-ended financial year.
Nomura Holdings (8604.TOK) surged 6.3% after reporting better than expected annual profit, while announcing a share buyback program. Rival brokerage Daiwa Securities (8601.TOK) tacked on 3.2% after its fourth-quarter net profit beat analyst expectations.
Elsewhere, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index ended lower as weakness in the mining and financial sectors weighed on the benchmark index.
Iron ore producers Fortescue Metals Group (FMG.ASX), Atlas Iron (AGO.ASX) and Rio Tinto (RIO.ASX) slumped 4%, 4.4% and 1.5% respectively, as iron prices declined.
ANZ Banking Group (ANZ.ASX) lost 1.2% despite reporting a 15% increase in half-year net profit, which slightly beating expectations. Westpac Banking Corporation (WBC.ASX) fell 1.2%, while National Australia Bank (NAB.ASX) retreated 1.7%.
Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a lower open, with markets in Germany, France and some other countries set to remain closed for the May 1 public holiday.
Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets pointed to a steady open. The Dow pointed to a drop of 0.03%, S&P 500 inched down 0.03%, while the Nasdaq 100 indicated a rise of 0.1%.
The U.S. is to publish the weekly report on initial jobless claims. At the same time, Fed Chair Janet Yellen is to speak at an event in Washington; her comments will be closely watched. Later Thursday, the Institute of Supply Management is to release a report on manufacturing activity.
Investors were also turning their attention to Friday’s U.S. jobs report for April, which was expected to indicate that the recovery in the labor market is continuing.