HONG KONG: Asian stocks were mixed on Friday as investors awaited the release of US jobs data later in the day while the Bank of Japan (BoJ) held fire on a fresh round of stimulus.
Investors are eyeing official US payroll data later Friday for the latest clues about the timing of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike, widely expected by September or December.
Tokyo recovered early losses to cap a second weekly advance, ending 0.29 percent, or 60.12 points, higher at 20,724.56.
Sydney fell sharply, losing 2.41 percent, or 135.5 points, to 5,474.8 as banking shares weighed heavily on the benchmark S&P/ASX200.
Seoul closed 0.15 percent lower, shedding 3.06 points to finish at 2,010.23.
Hong Kong and China shares rebounded after the previous day’s losses, with the Hang Seng Index up 0.78 percent and Shanghai climbing 2.24 percent in afternoon trade.
After a two-day meeting, the Bank of Japan on Friday held off fresh easing measures, saying the world’s number three economy was steadily recovering, but analysts widely expect policymakers to act later in the year.
“A lot of the move is coming from individual stocks,” Tokyo-based Mizuho Asset Management Co’s Seiichiro Iwamoto told Bloomberg News. “It’s still too early for the Bank of Japan to increase easing. It’ll likely come around October.”
Meanwhile, shares in Australia’s big four banks tumbled, led by ANZ, whose weaker than expected profits and Aus$3 billion ($2.2 billion) capital-raising program to meet tougher regulatory requirements surprised the market.
ANZ closed 7.49 percent lower at Aus$30.14, while shares in the Commonwealth Bank of Australia and Westpac closed 3.84 percent and 3.26 percent lower respectively.
“The feeling among investors is the capital raise isn’t enough,” T.S. Lim, a Sydney-based analyst at Bell Potter Securities, told Bloomberg News.
Financial regulator the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority said last month the nation’s biggest banks had to hold more capital reserves as a buffer against mortgages, as part of a global move to strengthen the sector after the financial crisis.
Gold loses its sheen
Shanghai rebounded on reports a government agency ordered to buy stocks to stem a market rout was seeking an additional two trillion yuan ($322 billion).
China will announce July trade and inflation figures this weekend.
After the Shanghai market peaked in mid-June and then fell 30 percent in three weeks, the government intervened with a rescue package which included a crackdown on short-selling, banning major investors in listed companies from selling stock for six months and funding a state-backed company to buy shares.