US economy, jobs report, oil prices, geopolitical tension

Employees work in the trading room at the Daiwa Securities Group Inc. headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021.

Toru Hanai | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Asia-Pacific markets traded mixed on Thursday amid some lingering concerns about global growth and ongoing geopolitical tensions.

In Australia, the ASX 200 trimmed earlier losses to trade down 0.14%, closing at 7,078. But, shares of major miners rose as Rio Tinto advanced 2.43%, Fortescue was up 3.27% and BHP added 3.09%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 1.06% to 27,241.31 while the Topix index was down 0.86% at 1,919.92. In South Korea, the Kospi bucked the downward trend and rose 1.67% to 2,707.82 while the Kosdaq advanced 2.15% to 891.60.

Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 1.72% in late afternoon trade.

A number of major markets, including those on the Chinese mainland and in Hong Kong, remain shut for the Lunar New Year holidays.

Thursday’s session in Asia followed overnight gains on Wall Street, which were driven by a jump in tech shares.

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On the data front, traders will watch the U.S. Labor Department’s nonfarm payroll count due Friday, which is seen as one of the major indicators of the how the U.S. economy is doing.

Some estimates suggest that January’s payroll figure could have potentially slowed to a crawl, or even turned negative — data from payroll processing firm ADP showed that companies subtracted 301,000 jobs during the month, largely due to the rising number of Covid-19 cases and a wider slowdown in business conditions.

“That drop followed a weak initial claims report for the labour market survey week in January, and has resulted in a wave of downward revisions for Friday’s official nonfarm payrolls release, which is now widely expected to show a negative number,” analysts at ANZ Research wrote on a Thursday morning note.

“Omicron is to blame,” they said, adding, “However, with confirmed COVID cases falling sharply, a bounce-back in jobs is expected in February/March.”

Elsewhere, geopolitical tensions in eastern Europe remained at heightened levels after the Pentagon said it will move some of its Europe-based forces further east and deploy additional U.S.-based troops to Europe.

That deployment comes as an estimated 100,000 Russian troops equipped with advanced weaponry line Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia and northern border with Belarus, which is an ally to Moscow.

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CNBC’s Jeff Cox and Amanda Macias contributed to this report.

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