Asian stocks higher after Wall Street gains as ahead of American jobs data

Markets Associated Press

Asian stock markets were mostly higher in holiday-abbreviated trading Friday following gains on Wall Street as investors awaited American jobs data.

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KEEPING SCORE: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent to 19,435.08 points and Seoul's Kospi was up 0.8 percent at 2,045.42. The Shanghai Composite added 0.5 percent to 3,843.69 and Thailand's benchmark rose 0.1 percent to 1,534.09. Markets are closed for holidays in Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Australia and in several Southeast Asian countries. Nymex oil trading is also closed Friday.

U.S. JOBS: Analysts expect U.S. employment data due later Friday to show employers added 248,000 jobs last month, according to FactSet. That would be the 13th straight month of gains in excess of 200,000 and the longest such stretch in 20 years, according to High-Frequency Economics. Employers added 295,000 jobs in February. On Thursday, the Commerce Department said applications for unemployment benefits fell sharply last week despite signs of weak economic growth.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "The arithmetic points to a continued rapid downtrend in unemployment," said Jim O'Sullivan of High Frequency Economics in a report. "We expect more acceleration in wage measures in the months and quarters ahead."

WALL STREET: Major U.S. stock indexes closed slightly higher on Thursday, rebounding from a two-day slide as investors looked ahead to the start of the next round of corporate earnings beginning next week. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 65.06 points, or 0.4 percent, to 17,763.24. The S&P 500 index rose 7.27 points, or 0.4 percent, to 2,066.96. The Nasdaq composite added 6.71 points, or 0.1 percent, to 4,886.94.

CURRENCIES: The dollar declined to 119.68 yen from 119.75 yen in the previous global trading session. The euro rose to $1.0881 from $1.0872.