Asian Stocks Finish Mute

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By Investors Hub

Asian stocks closed Thursday’s session on a muted note as falling oil prices coupled with worries about Catalonia’s independence vote from Spain kept investor appetite in check.

Market participants also awaited the U.S. government’s non-farm payrolls report due out Friday for further clues as to the timing of the next interest rate increase.

Japanese shares ended little changed near two-year highs as the yen strengthened slightly versus the greenback. The Nikkei 225 Index closed marginally higher at 20,628.56, while the broader Topix index slid 2 points to finish at 1,682.49.

Financial and technology stocks led the decliners, with Dai-ichi Life Holdings and Advantest ending down over 1 percent each. Retailer Aeon rose over 2 percent after lifting its full-year profit forecast.

Australian shares gave up early gains to end roughly flat as caution crept in ahead of U.S. jobs data. Domestic data proved to be a mixed bag, with the trade balance improving in August, helped by an increase in mining exports, while retail sales fell in the month.

The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index and the broader All Ordinaries Index closed narrowly mixed as banking and energy stocks succumbed to selling pressure, offsetting gains in the mining sector.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto rose 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent, respectively while gold miners Newcrest and Regis Resources rallied 1-3 percent.

Banks and energy stocks ended broadly lower as U.S. Treasury yields fell and oil dropped below $50 a barrel. Retailers JB Hi-Fi, Harvey Norman and Myer fell between 0.5 percent and 1.3 percent after the release of weaker than expected retail sales data for August.

Markets in South Korea and China were closed for the Harvest Festival and National Day holidays, respectively. Hong Kong also remained closed for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

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