Stock market today: Asian stocks show mixed performance before key U.S. jobs data release

Asian stocks were mixed Friday after a steady Thursday on Wall Street as markets anticipated the release of key U.S. jobs data later in the day. U.S. futures and oil prices rose. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 edged 0.1% lower to 38,683.93 after Friday data showed household spending in April was up 0.5% year-on-year. This was the first increase since February 2023 and is a key indicator in assessing the country’s economy as central bank officials prepare to hold a policy meeting next week. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index declined 0.6% to 18,369.83, while the Shanghai Composite index was up 0.2% at 3,053.36 as China trade data showed that exports in May rose faster than expected at 7.6% compared to a year earlier, while imports were weaker than market forecasts. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.5% to 7,860.00. South Korea’s Kospi surged 1.2% to 2,720.97. The S&P 500 barely budged on Thursday, a day after leaping to a record high for the 25th time this year. It dipped less than 0.1% to 5,352.96. The Dow Jones Industrial Average added 0.2% to 38,886.17, while the Nasdaq composite slipped 0.1% to 17,173.12 after hitting its own record. Big Lots tumbled 18.2% after reporting a larger loss for the latest quarter than expected. The retailer said it missed targets for sales because its customers are continuing to pull back on spending, particularly for things that aren’t essentials. Stock for another retailer, Five Below, fell 10.6%. Its profit and revenue last quarter fell short of analysts’ expectations, and CEO Joel Anderson said struggles for the company’s core lower-income customers dragged on results, even as it saw strong growth from higher-income customers. Many retailers and other companies have been highlighting a split between their customers making lower and higher incomes. Inflation is particularly hurting those at the lower end, who are struggling to keep up with a cost of living that’s still rising, even if inflation is not as fast as before. That threatens to crack a linchpin that’s kept the U.S. economy out of a recession despite high interest rates: strong spending by U.S. households. Another factor that’s helped U.S. consumer spending stay so strong has been a remarkably solid job market. A report on Thursday showed some potential softening there as well. Later Friday, the U.S. government is to release its monthly update on the job market. Economists expect it to show a slight acceleration in hiring and average hourly wage gains from the month before. In other dealings, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 15 cents to $75.70 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, was up 5 cents to $79.92 per barrel. The U.S. dollar fell to 155.28 Japanese yen from 155.68 yen. The euro climbed to $1.0891 from $1.0888.

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