Most Asian markets were lower on Friday as investors continued to assess economic data from the US ahead of a crucial Federal Reserve meeting next week.
Data released yesterday in the US showed a small drop in new jobless claims, confirming investor confidence in the outlook for the labor market, while an indicator of the path of East Coast manufacturing activity strengthened more than expected.
The data sent Wall Street indices higher, although concerns rekindled that the Federal Reserve, buoyed by a strong picture of the economy, would continue its aggressive rate hikes. Most analysts expect the central bank to make another – its third – rate hike of 75 basis points at the September meeting, although they are not ruling out a smaller increase of 50bps.
Investors are looking to speeches at the Fed’s annual meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming next week for new clues on how the central bank will move in the coming months.
On the board, Japan’s Nikkei 225 is down 0.04% at 28,930.33 points.
In Hong Kong the Hang Seng rose 0.3%, while in mainland China the Shanghai Composite lost 0.3%.
New Korea’s Kospi is down 0.5%, while Australia’s S&P-ASX 200 is marginally up. Indices in New Zealand and Singapore are falling.