Lacklustre Asian trade ahead of US jobs numbers

<p>Asian stocks look set to finish the week slightly lower ahead of US jobs numbers out tonight. The MSCI Asia Pacific index was 0.3% lower […]</p>

Asian stocks look set to finish the week slightly lower ahead of US jobs numbers out tonight. The MSCI Asia Pacific index was 0.3% lower at noon in Tokyo and despite the fall, the index is still set to finish the week in positive territory for the seventh straight time.

Chinese PMI was the key data set in the region out this week. Australians will be closely eyeing the decision of their central bank on Tuesday as it meets to decide on its benchmark rate.

In currencies, the Australian dollar fell back below 1.07 against the US dollar as the S&P/ASX200 index looked set to close 0.3% lower.

European finance ministers are set to meet in Berlin today. The Euro continues to hang on to gains against the dollar, last trading at 1.313. There is cause for optimism that progress is being made among traders.

S&P500 index futures are pointing to a modest gain tonight. US unemployment claims have dropped by 12,000 to 367,000 for last week. Consensus market estimates for tonight’s jobs data are for around 140,000 new jobs in January after the 200,000 added in December.

The unemployment rate is expected to remain steady at 8.5%. While earnings for US companies have on average beat analyst estimates so far this reporting season.

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