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Int'l markets mixed ahead of release of US jobs data

TOKYO/ HONG KONG -- Global markets were mixed Friday ahead of a release of key U.S. jobs data. Britain's FTSE 100 inched up less than 0.1 percent in early trading to 6,814.18, but France's CAC-40 edged down 0.3 percent to 4,471.95.

Market moves were cautious in anticipation of the release of U.S. government nonfarm payrolls report for April, which could show signs of an economic recovery.

The figures, which often set the market tone for a week or two after their release, may have a big impact as they come in the wake of significantly lower than expected U.S. economic growth in the first quarter and the Fed's ongoing reduction in its monetary stimulus.

Thursday's manufacturing survey from the Institute for Supply Management echoed other findings showing that the U.S. economy rebounded strongly in March and April. Most economists expect Friday's payrolls data to be solid too, with about 220,000 jobs created during April.

Overnight on Wall Street, share prices did not keep rising after three straight days of gains, as players took a wait-and-see attitude.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell less than 0.1 percent to 1,883.68. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 21.97 points to 16,558.87. The Dow had closed at an all-time high on Wednesday. The Nasdaq composite rose or 0.3 percent to 4,127.45.

The future for the Dow Jones industrial average was up 0.08 percent at 16,501.01 on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Much of the world was on holiday for May Day on Thursday.

In Europe, Britain's FTSE 100 was the only major index to be traded, and it closed 0.4 percent higher at 6,808.87.

“Investors treaded cautiously ahead of the jobs report later tonight,” said Desmond Chua, market analyst at CMC Markets in Singapore.

Asia's markets were mixed Friday as dealers returned from the May Day break to healthy manufacturing data from the United States and China as well as an upbeat assessment of the U.S. economy.

Tokyo eased 0.19 percent, after rallying 1.27 percent on Thursday. The Nikkei gave up 27.62 points to finish at 14,457.51, while Seoul slipped 0.12 percent, or 2.35 points, to 1,959.44.

Sydney added 0.17 percent, or 9.3 points, to 5,458.1 and Hong Kong rose 0.57 percent, or 126.70 points, to 22,260.67.

Shanghai was closed for a public holiday.

On Thursday China said its official measurement of manufacturing activity improved in April for a second straight month. The official purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 50.4, the National Bureau of Statistics said, up from 50.3 in March.

Gold fetched US$1,285.81 at 1045 GMT compared with US$1,282.76 on Thursday.

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