Stocks end week lower; oil remains flat ahead of next OPEC report

<p>Asian markets ended the week lower, with all eyes on the overnight US jobs report. Stocks swung between early gains and losses. The MSCI Asia […]</p>

Asian markets ended the week lower, with all eyes on the overnight US jobs report. Stocks swung between early gains and losses. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index was little changed at 134.47 as of 12.50pm in Tokyo, having swung between gains and losses at least six times. About five stocks fell for each four that rose on the measure, which last week completed its longest streak of weekly losses in two years as concern deepened over Europe’s debt crisis and amid speculation a slowing global recovery will crimp earnings.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average decreased 0.2%, erasing an earlier advance of as much as 0.5%. Prime Minister Naoto Kan’s pledge to step down set off a contest to select the nation’s next leader, adding to the risk of delays in reconstruction after the March earthquake and approval of plans to boost taxes and shrink the deficit needed to restore growth and assuage credit concerns. Kan yesterday survived a no-confidence vote in parliament.

Elsewhere, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 0.1%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index slipped 0.3%, while China’s Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.9%. South Korea’s Kospi Index added 0.1%. In corporate news, Honda Motor, which gets about 44% of its sales from North America, slipped 0.7% in Tokyo. Staying with Japan, Nomura Holdings cut pay for Chief Executive Officer Kenichi Watanabe and top executives by 38% the last fiscal year after posting lower earnings, according to documents sent to shareholders.

Japan’s biggest brokerage reduced the total compensation of its top 10 executives to 899 million yen ($11 million) for the year ended March 31, from 1.45 billion yen a year earlier, according to the documents. In South Korea, LG Electronics dropped 2.3% after saying there won’t be a turnaround for its mobile-phone business in the second quarter.

Australian brewer Foster’s Group rallied after reports Grupo Modelo SAB de CV and Molson Coors Brewing. are exploring a possible joint bid for the Australian brewer. Grupo Modelo SAB de CV, the Mexican brewer of Corona beer, and Molson Coors Brewing have been exploring a possible joint bid for Australia’s biggest brewer. The company has approached Bank of America Corp and Deutsche Bank AG to line up financing for a potential deal, according to newspaper reports.

In commodities, immediate-delivery gold rose as much as 0.2% to $1,535.88 an ounce before trading little changed at $1,532.75 at 11.37 am in Singapore. The metal is little changed this week. Cash silver was little changed at $36.1462 an ounce after rising as much as 0.4% to $36.34 earlier. Oil traded near $100 a barrel in New York, little changed from a week ago, before a report that will indicate the strength of the US economy and as OPEC prepares to meet in Vienna next week to decide output quotas. Futures have fluctuated from $98 to $103 a barrel this week.

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