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Nikkei Markets

Asian stocks rise ahead of key US employment data

Tencent Holdings, China Life Insurance pace A300 gains

HONG KONG (Nikkei Markets) -- Asian shares outside of Japan advanced Friday as investors awaited a key U.S. employment report.

The Nikkei Asia300 index rose 0.7% to 1,307.47.

Asian equities advanced ahead of the U.S. jobs report that is expected to show that hiring by employers picked up last month. The world's largest economy is forecast to have 180,000 jobs in November compared with 128,000 in the previous month, according to economists polled by Reuters. Average earnings growth is pegged at 0.3% month-on-month and unemployment rate at 3.6%.

Investors will be hoping for better news from the jobs report after a string of disappointing data earlier this week. U.S. manufacturing, services, and private job additions all missed expectations. A weak set of employment numbers could lead investors to reconsider the Federal Reserve's guidance that rates are likely to remain at the current levels for a long time.

Meanwhile, whether the U.S. and China can reach an interim deal before a deadline for more American tariffs on Chinese goods also remained on focus. President Donald Trump reportedly said yesterday that trade talks were "moving along well" after China's commerce ministry spokesman said that officials of both the countries were in close contact.

If a deal is not reached by Dec. 15, there is a possibility that U.S. could impose new tariffs on more than $150 billion of Chinese goods, worsening the long-running trade war.

Among Chinese companies that gained on the A300 gauge on Friday, Tencent Holdings added 1.7% and China Life Insurance climbed 1.8%. China Overseas Land & Investment rose 1.1% following a 13.1% increase in November contracted property sales.

Hong Kong rail operator MTR rose 1.4% despite the company warning that profit for the year ended Dec. 31 will likely be lower than a year earlier due to the impact on traffic and damage to its facilities amid the social unrest in the city.

Taiwan's Largan Precision declined 0.4% despite its November sales surging 66% from a year earlier.

Hon Hai Precision Industry climbed 0.7% after the Taiwanese IPhone assembles said November sales rose 0.2% from a year ago.

--Nimesh Vora

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