Asian Markets Mixed Amid Cautious Trade

(RTTNews) - Asian stock markets are showing a lack of direction and are trading mixed on Friday, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, as traders remain cautiously optimistic ahead of the release of the U.S. Labor Department's more closely watched monthly jobs report later in the day for clues about the Fed's timelines for asset tapering and interest rate hikes. Asian markets ended mixed on Thursday.

U.S. Fed Chair Jerome Powell said last week that the central bank is likely to start scaling back bond purchases this year depending upon the improvement in the labor market.

Traders also continue to be anxious amid the rapid spread of the delta variant of the coronavirus in the region and in several countries, particularly in Japan and the U.S., which continues to stifle economic activity.

The Australian stock market is modestly higher on Friday, recouping the losses in the previous two sessions, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 breaking above the 7,500 level, following the broadly positive cues overnight from Wall Street, boosted by materials and energy stocks, even as the country struggles to contain the domestic coronavirus situation, primarily in New South Wales and Victoria, hindering economic activity amid lockdowns.

NSW has reported a record 1,438 new local cases of COVID-19 and twelve deaths on Thursday. Victoria recorded 208 new locally acquired cases and one death, with active cases now totalling 1,180 across the state.
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