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Asian stocks mixed ahead of monthly U.S. jobs report

BEIJING — Asian stock markets were mixed Tuesday as investors looked ahead to U.S. jobs data for reassurance the biggest global economy is improving following the previous month’s big hiring miss.

Tokyo declined while Hong Kong and Seoul advanced. Shanghai was flat.

U.S. markets, which ended May with a gain amid inflation fears, were due to reopen Tuesday following a holiday.

Traders looked ahead to Friday’s report on U.S. hiring in March for reassurance April’s lurch down was a fluke. Employers added 266,000 jobs that month, half the recent average and well below expectations of 1 million.

Investors have wavered between optimism about the global economy’s revival following its deepest slump since the 1930s and fears higher inflation might prompt governments and central banks to withdraw stimulus.

“Investors may be adopting a wait-and-see approach ahead of the jobs report,” Jun Rong Yeap of IG said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite Index was flat at 3,615.87 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo shed 0.2% to 28,814.34.

China’s ruling Communist Party announced Monday it will ease birth restrictions to allow couples to have three children instead of two. The party wants to slow the rapid aging of the population and ensure and adequate number of future workers, but couples are put off by high costs and work pressures.

Also Monday, Chinese commercial banks were ordered to hold more of their foreign currency as reserves in the central bank to limit sales and restrain the rise of the exchange rate of China’s currency, the yuan.

The People’s Bank of China is trying to deter speculators after the yuan rose by about 12% against the dollar since May. The latest change is a “strong signal” that policymakers are “increasingly uncomfortable” with the speed of the yuan’s rise, Macquarie Group analysts said in a report.

The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.6% to 28,814.34. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.4% to 3,218.14. Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.1% to 7,151.50.

India’s Sensex opened down 0.2% at 51,856.61. New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets gained.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude jumped $1.37 per barrel to $67.69 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 97 cents to $70.29 per barrel in London.

The dollar declined to 109.48 Japanese yen from Monday’s 109.59 yen. The euro retreated to $1.2226 from $1.2232.

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