Asian stocks were mixed on Friday after the news of rise in Chinese trade surplus.
China''s 2013 trade surplus rose to $259.8 billion from $231 billion in 2012. Exports rose 7.9% in 2013 while imports were up 7.3%. Total trade growth was just below the full-year 8% target at 7.6%, an improvement over 2012''s 6.2% increase.
The December balance was USD25.60 billion, compared to an estimate of USD31.15 billion and a figure of USD33.08 billion the previous month.
Trade growth missed the full-year target again in 2013. The outlook for 2014 may be more upbeat amid widespread expectations that the U.S. economy will continue to recover. For now, the fact that December import growth beat market expectations could mean healthy domestic demand at the start of 2014.
The Nikkei 225 rose by 0.01% in the morning trading, the Hang Seng index rose by 0.42%, while the Shanghai Composite index fell by 0.49%.
Earlier on Thursday, U.S. stocks ended mixed as investors jumped to the sidelines to await the release of the December jobs report on Friday.
At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.11%, the S&P 500 index rose 0.03%, while the Nasdaq Composite index fell 0.23%.
Uncertainty over the strength of the December jobs report and unemployment rate kept investors on the sidelines Thursday.
On Wednesday, payroll processor ADP reported that private-sector nonfarm payrolls rose by 238,000 in December, surpassing consensus forecasts for an increase of 200,000.
Earlier Thursday, the Labor Department said the number of individuals filing for unemployment assistance in the U.S. last week fell by 15,000 to 330,000 from the previous week’s revised total of 345,000.
Economists had expected jobless claims to decline by 10,000.
The Federal Reserve has said it will pay close attention to data when deciding on further cuts to its USD75 billion monthly bond-buying program.
Fed bond purchases aim to suppress long-term interest rates to spur recovery, making asset classes like stocks more attractive with the goal of encouraging more investment and hiring.
Talk of less Fed intervention can send stock prices falling by stoking uncertainty as to how markets will perform without a crutch from the U.S. central bank.
By Thursday, a wait-and-see mode allowed for sideways trading.
Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included DuPont, up 1.54%, Boeing, up 1.12%, and Johnson & Johnson, up 0.78%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average''s worst performers included Verizon, down 2.05%, AT&T, down 2.03%, and Exxon Mobil, down 0.97%.
European indices, meanwhile, finished lower.
After the close of European trade, the EURO STOXX 50 fell 0.68%, France''s CAC 40 fell 0.84%, while Germany''s DAX 30 fell 0.80%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 finished down 0.45%.
On Friday, markets will move on the U.S. December job
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