Asia stocks set to trade lower as investors look ahead to jobs report stateside

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Stocks in Asia were set to trade lower at the open on Friday ahead of the upcoming release of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, which could provide clues as to whether the Federal Reserve will cut interest rates at its monetary policy meeting later this month.

Futures pointed to a lower open for Japanese stocks, with the Nikkei contract in Chicago at 21,675, as compared to the benchmark Nikkei 225’s last close at 21,702.45.

Australian shares were also set to decline. The SPI futures contract was at 6,666, which compared to the S&P/ASX 200’s last close at 6,718.

Asia-Pacific Market Indexes Chart

U.S. markets were closed on Thursday for the July 4 holiday.

Investors will be awaiting the release of the nonfarm payrolls report stateside later in the day, with expectations for U.S. private payroll employment to have grown by 153,000 in June, according to economists in a Reuters poll. That compares against a figure of 90,000 from the previous month. Total non-farm employment is expected to have changed by 160,000.

On Wednesday, a report from ADP and Moody’s Analytics showed private payrolls rising by 102,000 in June.

A weaker-than-expected figure from the upcoming payrolls report could increase bets that the Fed will cut interest rates at its upcoming meeting. The central bank opened the door to easier monetary policy last month by stating it will “act as appropriate” to maintain the current economic expansion.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.768 after seeing levels around 96.3 earlier in the week.

The Japanese yen traded at 107.80 against the dollar after weakening from levels around 107.7 yesterday, while the Australian dollar changed hands at $0.7025 after slipping from levels around $0.704 in the previous session.

— Reuters contributed to this report.

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