Asian Shares Mixed On Bank Contagion Worries

Asian stocks ended Friday’s session on a mixed note, as investors fretted about the health of U.S. banks and reacted to mixed China data, strong earnings results from Apple and the ECB rate decision. Trading volumes were thin due to holidays in Japan and South Korea.

The dollar traded weak and gold held near record highs ahead of the all-important U.S. jobs report due later in the day that could influence the Federal Reserve’s monetary policy path. Oil prices rebounded but headed for a third straight week of losses on demand worries.

Chinese shares ended lower as data showed a slower pace of recovery in the country’s services sector. China’s service activity grew for a fourth straight month but at a slower pace than March, a private sector survey showed.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index dropped 0.5 percent to 3,334.50, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index settled half a percent higher at 20,049.31.

Australian markets eked out modest gains after three consecutive sessions of losses. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.4 percent to 7,220, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended 0.3 percent higher at 7,413.10.

Lender ANZ Group rallied 1.5 percent after reporting strong first-half profit. Gold miners Regis Resources, Northern Star Resources, Evolution Mining and Newcrest climbed 1-2 percent as gold prices steadied near record highs on a weaker dollar.

Across the Tasman, New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX-50 Index slid 0.7 percent to 11,889.01.

U.S. stocks fell for a fourth straight day overnight on bank worries after PacWest confirmed that it is reviewing strategic options, including a potential sale. Mixed signals from the Fed on the interest rate outlook also weighed on markets.

On the economic front, weekly jobless claims rose along with labor costs, while the trade deficit narrowed in March.

The Dow gave up 0.9 percent to turn slightly negative for 2023, while the S&P 500 declined 0.7 percent and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite eased half a percent.

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