Asian stocks succumbed to selling pressure on Friday as lower commodity prices pulled down mining and energy stocks and investors awaited the U.S. employment report later in the day for clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates again at its June meeting.
U.S employment is expected to increase by 180,000 jobs in April after an increase of 98,000 jobs in March. The unemployment rate is expected to tick up to 4.6 percent from 4.5 percent. Investors also remained focus on this weekend’s presidential runoff vote in France.
China’s Shanghai Composite index fell 24.33 points or 0.78 percent to 3,103.04 on concerns over cooling growth and tightening regulatory scrutiny to curb leverage and speculation. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index was down 207 points or 0.83 percent at 24,475 in late trade.
Australian shares extended losses for a fourth straight session, dragged down by mining and energy stocks. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index dropped 39.80 points or 0.68 percent to 5,836.60, taking its total fall for the week to 1.5 percent. The broader All Ordinaries index closed 40.70 points or 0.69 percent lower at 5,863.80.
Weaker iron ore and copper prices weighed on miners, with BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals Group losing 2-3 percent. Gold miner Newcrest fell over 3 percent after gold prices fell to close at their lowest level in seven weeks overnight.
Energy stocks Woodside Petroleum, Santos, Oil Search and Origin Energy lost 2-3 percent as oil extended losses in Asian deals after losing as much as 5 percent overnight on concerns about global oversupply.
Telstra soared 4 percent while TPG Telecom slumped 4.5 percent as Australia’s competition watchdog ruled against the sale of wholesale domestic mobile roaming services.
Macquarie Group rallied 3.2 percent after the investment bank posted a record full year profit of $2.21 billion.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index dropped 12.92 points or 0.18 percent to 7,365.50, with Tegel Group…