US economy, jobs report, oil prices, geopolitical tensions

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

Toru Hanai | Bloomberg | Getty Images

SINGAPORE — Markets in Asia-Pacific traded mixed on Thursday amid some lingering concerns over global growth and lingering geopolitical tensions.

In Australia, the ASX 200 pared earlier losses to trade down 0.18%. But, shares of major miners rose as Rio Tinto gained 2.12%, Fortescue rose 1.76% and BHP added 2.13%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 fell 0.92% while the Topix index fell 0.52%. In South Korea, the Kospi bucked the downtrend and rose 1.68% while the Kosdaq rose 2.28%.

A number of major markets, including those on the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong, remain closed during the Lunar New Year holiday.

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

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On the data front, traders will be watching the U.S. Department of Labor’s nonfarm payrolls tally due Friday, which is considered one of the leading indicators for the performance of the U.S. economy.

Some estimates suggest January’s payrolls figure could have slowed or even turned negative – data from payroll processing firm ADP showed companies shed 301,000 jobs during the month, largely in due to the growing number of Covid-19 cases and a broader downturn in economic conditions.

“The decline follows an initial weak claims report for the Labor Market Survey week in January, and led to a wave of downward revisions for Friday’s official non-farm payrolls release. , which is now expected to show a negative number,” analysts at ANZ Research said. wrote on a Thursday morning note.

“Omicron is to blame,” they said, adding, “However, with the sharp decline in confirmed COVID cases, a rebound in employment is expected in February/March.”

Elsewhere, geopolitical tensions in Eastern Europe remained at high levels after the Pentagon said it would move some of its European-based forces further east and deploy additional US troops to Europe.

This deployment is accompanied by around 100,000 Russian troops equipped with advanced weaponry on Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia and on the northern border with Belarus, which is an ally of Moscow.

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