Global Markets Rise Modestly -- Update

By Lucy Craymer Features Dow Jones Newswires

Asia-Pacific equities struggled for direction Friday, following a lack of movement in most U.S. stocks overnight, as investors seek new drivers after an October to remember.

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Australian stocks stood out, hitting fresh 2017 highs on gains in commodity prices. The S&P/ASX 200 was recently up 0.5% at 5964 and moving closer to 2015's peak of 5996.9. Above that, the index will be at 10-year highs.

BHP Billiton rose 1.3%, putting the week's increase at 4.2%, while Rio Tinto added 1% to hit a six-year high. Rising metals prices also helped Korean steel producers, with Posco climbing 0.6%.

But Korea's Kospi was flat and most benchmarks in the region were within 0.2% of Thursday's closing levels. Japanese markets were closed Friday for a holiday.

"This is normal consolidation," said CMC market analyst Margaret Yang Yan. But she added that selling is pretty light "and we don't see a systematic risk. It's just the market needs some time to digest and consolidate a bit."

Some investors have paused ahead of today's U.S. jobs report. After the first monthly drop in seven years in September's--skewed by hurricanes--"expectations are quite high for the data," OM Financial client adviser Stuart Ive said. Weekly jobless claims are at 44-year lows.

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Metals prices rebounded this week, with steel and iron ore among the leaders. Nickel has been a standout by rising 23% over the past month due to expectations that supply will tighten on demand from electric-vehicle producers.

Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings rose 1.4%, hitting record highs again. That came after Alibaba Group Holding reported positive quarterly results. That helped Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index--of which it is the largest component--gain 0.5%.

Elsewhere, oil futures continued to rise, with the U.S. benchmark joining global standard Brent in reaching levels last seen in mid-2015. Both are up as much as 0.5% in Asian trading.

Write to Lucy Craymer at Lucy.Craymer@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 02, 2017 23:35 ET (03:35 GMT)