Update as of 6:00 a.m. EDT: Reflecting worries over the findings of a U.S. jobs report, scheduled to be released Friday, Asian markets ended the day in the red.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index closed down 2.1 percent after briefly hitting a new seven-month low, and South Korea’s Kospi Composite index dropped 1.5 percent, closing down 30 points. India’s benchmark Sensex and Nifty indexes also closed down 2.1 percent Friday -- a day after reporting substantial gains.
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Asian shares opened sharply lower Friday as investors exercised caution ahead of the release of a crucial monthly U.S. jobs report, due later in the day.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 extended losses Friday and hit a fresh seven-month low of 17,674.40, before recovering slightly and trading down 2.4 percent. India’s benchmark indexes Nifty and Sensex were both down nearly 1.8 percent, with the former hitting a fresh 52-week low. South Korea’s Kospi Composite index also traded 1.4 percent in the red.
“Markets sold off after the early bounce in accordance with the U.S. equity markets,” Nicholas Teo, an analyst at online trading platform provider CMC Markets in Singapore, told Reuters. “Only one theme on every trader’s mind today -- U.S. jobs report tonight. And how that may possibly play on the Fed’s September rate decision.”
If the report highlights a strong growth in the number of jobs the U.S. economy added in August, it would confirm the view that the world's largest economy is strong enough to withstand higher interest rates. However, if the U.S. Federal Reserve does decide to hike interest rates later this month, it risks creating further volatility in the already jittery global markets.
According to a Reuters survey, U.S. nonfarm payrolls are believed to have increased by 220,000 jobs in August, after July’s 215,000 rise. According to analysts, any number above 200,000 is considered “very solid.”
Also on Friday, the South Korean finance ministry announced that it would sell 4 trillion won ($3.4 billion) worth of Treasury bills later this month to "help stabilize the management of state-controlled funds," the Yonhap news agency reported.