Investing.com - Asian stock markets were mixed on Thursday, as investors looked ahead to the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report later in the day as well as a policy decision by the European Central Bank.
During late Asian trade, China’s Shanghai Composite inched up 0.11%, Hong Kong''s Hang Seng declined 0.1%, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 closed 0.66% higher, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 ended down 0.14%.
Asia was given a positive lead from the U.S., where the Dow and S&P 500 closed at all-time highs, amid indications that the U.S. economy is improving.
Payroll processing firm ADP said Wednesday that non-farm private employment rose by a seasonally adjusted 281,000 in June, the highest since November 2012 and easily surpassing expectations for an increase of 200,000.
Traders now looked ahead to the government’s monthly jobs report later Thursday, which is expected to show a gain of 212,000 new jobs in June.
The data is being released one day earlier than usual due to the July 4 U.S. Independence Day holiday on Friday.
In Tokyo, the Nikkei ended modestly lower as investors booked profits on recent gains, which took the index to the highest level in five months on Wednesday.
The U.S. dollar strengthened to ¥101.93 against the yen, compared to Wednesday’s close of ¥101.82.
Meanwhile, shares in mainland China and Hong Kong swung between small gains and losses after government data showed that China''s non-manufacturing purchasing managers'' index dipped for the first time in five months to 55.0 in June, compared with 55.5 in May.
A separate report showed that China’s HSBC Services Purchasing Managers Index rose to a 15-month high of 53.1 last month, from 50.7 in May.
Elsewhere, in Australia, the ASX/200 Index ended higher despite data showing that retail sales fell 0.5% in May, disappointing expectations for a 0.3% gain.
A separate report showed that building approvals rose 9.9% in May, soaring past expectations for gain of 3%.
The Aussie tumbled more than 1% against the U.S. dollar after central bank governor Glenn Stevens said the currency was overvalued.
Looking ahead, European stock market futures pointed to a modestly higher open as investors looked ahead to the outcome of the European Central Bank’s policy meeting later in the trading day. The announcement is to be followed by a press conference with President Mario Draghi.
The DJ Euro Stoxx 50 futures pointed to a gain of 0.1%, France’s CAC 40 indicated a rise of 0.25%, Germany''s DAX pointed to a gain of 0.2%, while London’s FTSE 100 indicated an increase of 0.2%.
Across the Atlantic, U.S. equity markets also pointed to a firm open. The Dow futures pointed to a gain of 0.1%, the S&P 500 added 0.15%, while the Nasdaq 100 indicated a rise of 0.2%.
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