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Nikkei climbs as PM Suga set to depart, with other markets steady ahead of U.S. jobs data

BEIJING — Asian stock markets rose Friday as investors awaited U.S. hiring data some appear to hope will be weak enough to persuade the Federal Reserve to postpone winding down economic stimulus.

The Nikkei 225
NIK,
+1.96%

in Tokyo added nearly 2% after Prime Minister Yoshihide won’t run for the party leadership post, which means the country will see a new leader elected, given his party’s parlimentary majority. The Shanghai Composite Index
SHCOMP,
-0.52%

fell 0.2% while the Hang Seng
HSI,
-0.76%

in Hong Kong declined 0.6%.

The Kospi
180721,
+0.69%

in Seoul advanced 0.7% and Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200
XJO,
+0.47%

added 0.4%. Stocks rose in Taiwan
Y9999,
+1.06%

but slipped slightly in Singapore
STI,
-0.28%

and Indonesia
JAKIDX,
+0.14%
.

The U.S. government was due to report August hiring, prompting hopes a weak job market might delay the end of stimulus that supports stock prices. A survey earlier by payroll processor ADP found companies added fewer jobs than expected, while an industry group said manufacturing employment fell.

Investors are making “perverse bets” that low U.S. jobs numbers “will nudge the Fed to defer taper for longer, thereby buoying markets,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank in a report.

Investor optimism had been boosted by strong U.S. corporate profits and the spread of coronavirus vaccinations. But the more contagious delta variant and measures to stop it are weighing on business and consumer activity.

On Wall Street on Thursday, the benchmark S&P 500
SPX,
+0.28%

rose 0.3% to 4,536.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average
DJIA,
+0.37%

gained 0.4% to 35,443.82. The Nasdaq
COMP,
+0.14%

advanced 0.1% to a record 15,331.18.

Forecasters expect the Labor Department numbers to show U.S. employers added 750,000 jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.2%. That would be less than monthly average of 940,000 in June and July.

The Fed has indicated it might begin winding down bond purchases of $120 billion a month that pump money into the financial system but likely will keep interest rates low until a recovery is confirmed.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude
CLV21,
-0.21%

lost 3 cents to $69.96 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.40 on Thursday to $69.99. Brent crude
BRNX21,
,
the price basis for international oils, advanced 13 cents to $73.16 per barrel in London. It rose $1.44 the previous session to $73.03 a barrel.

The dollar
USDJPY,
+0.08%

edged up to 109.99 yen from Thursday’s 109.97 yen.

MarketWatch contributed to this report.

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