Asian stocks mostly down ahead of US jobs report

<p>Investors are looking for clues to possible US Fed rate hike.</p>

Asian stocks were lower today (August 4th) ahead of the US nonfarm payrolls report for August, which is expected to significantly influence the Federal Reserve's decision about when to start raising interest rates.

According to a Reuters survey, nonfarm payrolls likely increased by 220,000 jobs in August, following a 215,000 rise in July.

With the mainland Chinese market closed for a second day, investors are focused on the Fed's plans for raising interest rates.

On Wednesday the ADP National Employment Report showed private payrolls increased by 190,000 last month, which was below economists' expectations for a gain of 201,000 jobs, according to Reuters. However, it was up on the 177,000 positions created in July.

A strong job report today would strengthen the case for a September interest rate rise, especially after it emerged the US economy grew significantly more than first estimated in the second quarter of the year, expanding at an annual rate of 3.7 per cent.

Japan's Nikkei fell 2.1 per cent to 17,792.16, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index was down 0.4 per cent to 20,840.61 as trading resumed following a holiday and South Korea's Kospi shed 1.5 per cent to 1,886.04. Australia's ASX 200 edged up 0.2 per cent to 5040.60.

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