July 5: Most Asian markets drifted lower in subdued trade Friday as investors steeled themselves for the release of a crucial US jobs report that could have a major bearing on the size of an expected Federal Reserve interest rate cut.
With uncertainty over the China-US trade row put aside for now, this week has been dominated by speculation about the US central bank's plans to address a weakening economic outlook, both at home and globally.
The jobs report is a closely watched gauge of the state of the world's biggest economy and a below-forecast reading would ramp up hopes the Fed will announce a 50-basis-point reduction.
“A number in line with consensus probably delivers that July cut and I think that's what the market wants to see,” Pepperstone Group head of research Chris Weston told Bloomberg Television.
But he warned: “If we get a really strong number, I think risk could really come off the table.”
The clamour for a Fed rate cut comes as central banks around the world take a more accommodative footing to offset economic weakness blamed on trade uncertainty, particularly the China-US standoff.
Equity traders were shifting uneasily ahead of the jobs release, with Hong Kong and Shanghai each down 0.3 percent and Tokyo ending the morning 0.1 percent lower.
Singapore, Taipei and Seoul were each 0.1 percent off as well, but Sydney, Wellington, Manila and Jakarta edged up slightly.