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Asian Equities Mixed as Investors Await U.S. Jobless Data

By Gina Lee

Investing.com - Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday morning in Asia as investors await the release of jobless claims data in the United States.

The U.S. initial jobless claims data is expected to be released later today, with forecasts compiled by Investing.com predicting a million claims.

The ASX 200 was up 1.69% by 10:55 PM ET (2:55 AM GMT). South Korea’s KOSPI and China’s Shenzhen Component recouped earlier losses to rise 0.11% and 1.4% respectively.

However, Japan’s Nikkei 225 lost 3.99% while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was down by 0.99% and China’s Shanghai Composite was down by 0.06%.

Even the news that U.S. senators have reached agreement on a $2 trillion relief package overnight failed to calm investors’ nerves.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be a force to be reckoned with. The World Health Organization said that the number of cases globally topped 400,000 and the number of deaths is approaching the 20,000 mark.

Rodrigo Catril, senior foreign exchange strategist at National Australia Bank, said in a note: “We are now starting to get data prints that should begin the capture the new reality, on that score tonight’s U.S. jobless claims is the big data release.”

“The US jobless claims figures for the week ending 21 March is expected to be very big, last week’s claims printed at 281k and the median estimate for the 21 March number is 1.5m,” Catril said. “There is a wide range of estimates out there - a couple of estimates as high as 4m and over a third of economist estimates above 2m.”

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