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.
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.
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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.
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)