Asian stock markets broadly higher after rally on Wall Street
Tokyo - AFP
Asian stock markets were broadly higher Friday after a rally on Wall Street with investors focused on a US jobs report that will supply more clues about the strength of the world's top economy.
Tokyo was up 0.30 percent, Sydney climbed 0.61 percent, Seoul inched 0.07 percent higher, while Hong Kong added 0.62 percent.
Mainland Chinese markets also rose with Shanghai tacking on 0.84 percent ahead of the release of trade data for April which showed exports fell 6.2 percent year-on-year, a further sign of weakness in the world's second-largest economy.
Markets are gearing up for the US Labor Department's jobs report Friday to gauge whether the economy is strong enough for the Federal Reserve to begin raising ultra-low interest rates.
US employers likely added 228,000 workers to non-farm payrolls last month, after a 126,000 increase in March, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg.
A positive reading would renew hopes for a rate hike later this year, after a batch of tepid US data earlier this week, including a disappointing employment report from payroll firm ADP.
"There's very little to drive the markets ahead of the macro data," said Andrew Sullivan, head of sales trading at Haitong International Securities Group in Hong Kong.
"We may see some caution into the close. The wage levels will probably be more closely watched for signs of inflation."
On Wall Street, US stocks pushed higher Thursday as oil prices cooled and Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba soared on strong sales.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average advanced 0.46 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.38 percent, while the Nasdaq jumped 0.53 percent.
Oil prices dived Thursday a day after hitting 2015 highs as worries about global oversupply re-emerged with traders scrutinising a mixed US inventories report.
On Friday, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June was down nine cents to $58.85 a barrel, while Brent North Sea crude for June, the European benchmark, was up two cents to $65.56 a barrel.
In Asian currency trading, the British pound got a boost after exit polls suggested Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives were on course for victory.
The pound rose to $1.5441 in Friday morning, up from $1.5262 in New York, while the euro tumbled to 0.7296 pounds, from 0.7382.
The polls indicated Cameron's Conservatives have defied expectations to win the most seats in Britain's general election while falling just short of the clear majority needed to govern alone.
In other trading, the dollar strengthened to 119.93 yen from 119.75 yen, while the euro weakened to $1.1244 and 134.84 yen, against $1.1266 and 134.91 yen in US trade.
Gold fetched $1,184.05, up from $1,183.36 late Thursday.