Asia shares mixed ahead of US jobs report

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets were mixed Thursday as profit-taking tempered the buoyant sentiment fuelled by another record-breaking performance on Wall Street.

Investors are now keeping their focus on the release later in the day of key US jobs figures, hoping for further signs a recovery in the world's number-one economy is picking up strength.

Tokyo was flat, Hong Kong dipped 0.18 per cent, Seoul lost 0.27 per cent and Shanghai was 0.51 per cent lower, while Sydney added 0.43 per cent.

Regional shares have enjoyed a broad rally this week, helped by data suggesting Chinese manufacturing is getting back on track.

Global shares have been on an upward course for much of the week and were given an extra lift by a positive report on private jobs Wednesday.

Payrolls company ADP said the private sector added a better-than-expected 281,000 jobs in June, surging from 179,000 in May.

The news lifted sentiment ahead of the release Thursday of the Labor Department's non-farm payrolls data, which is used as a barometer of the wider economy.

US shares extended Tuesday's gains. On Wall Street the Dow added 0.12 per cent and the S&P 500 was marginally higher, both hitting records for a second successive day. The Nasdaq was flat.

In foreign exchange trade the gains on equity markets lifted confidence, which provided support to higher risk, higher-yielding units.

The dollar bought 101.90 yen in early Tokyo trade compared with 101.77 yen in New York Wednesday. The yen, which is considered a safe bet in times of uncertainty, has slipped over the past week - on Monday it touched 101.23 against the dollar, its highest level since late May.

The euro bought US$1.3653 and 139.14 yen against US$1.3658 and 138.99 yen.

Oil prices edged lower. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery eased 47 cents to US$104.01 while Brent crude for August was down 47 cents to US$110.77.

Gold fetched US$1,324.81 an ounce at 0200 GMT compared with US$1,326.03 late Wednesday.