Asia Pacific shares mixed as investors await US initial jobless claims data

Stocks in Asia Pacific were mixed in Thursday morning trade ahead of the release of the U.S. unemployment claims report.

Over in South Korea, the Kospi jumped 1.48% as shares of automaker Hyundai Motor soared nearly 6% while the Kosdaq index gained 1.43%.

Shares in Australia also advanced, with the S&P/ASX 200 gaining 1.24%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225, on the other hand, slipped 0.23%. The Topix index also declined 0.8%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded 0.7% higher.

On the economic data front, the U.S. unemployment claims report for the week ended April 4 is set to be out at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday, with more than five million expected to have filed for unemployment last week as the country continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic.

Aberdeen Standard Investments’ Hugh Young told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Thursday that the numbers on the unemployment front will likely look “fairly bad.”

“We’ve seen the initial short, sharp rises (in unemployment) and I think as other industries assess the effect on their businesses — even when their businesses are in decent shape — are going to look at cutting out costs more and more,” said Young, who is managing director for the Asia Pacific region at Aberdeen Standard Investments. “It’s going to be quite brutal, I think, in the months ahead.”

In Asia, the Bank of Korea kept its benchmark interest unchanged, Reuters reported Thursday. That was largely in line with expectations of most analysts surveyed by Reuters.

Overnight on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 779.71 points to close at 23,433.57 while the S&P 500 ended its trading day 3.4% higher at 2,749.98. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 2.6% to close at 8,090.90.

Oil prices jumped in the morning of Asian trading hours on Thursday, with international benchmark Brent crude futures 2.56% higher at $33.68 per barrel. The U.S. crude futures contract also surged 4.5% to $26.22 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 100.01 after seeing levels below 100.1 earlier in the trading week.

The Japanese yen traded at 108.98 per dollar after weakening from levels below 108.8 yesterday. The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6244 after rising from levels below $0.621 yesterday.

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