BEIJING — Asian stock markets rose Friday as investors awaited U.S. hiring data some appear to hope will be weak enough to persuade the Federal Reserve to postpone winding down economic stimulus.

The Nikkei 225

in Tokyo added nearly 2% after Prime Minister Yoshihide won’t run for the party leadership post, which means the country will see a new leader elected, given his party’s parlimentary majority. The Shanghai Composite Index

fell 0.2% while the Hang Seng

in Hong Kong declined 0.6%.

The Kospi

in Seoul advanced 0.7% and Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200

added 0.4%. Stocks rose in Taiwan

but slipped slightly in Singapore

and Indonesia

The U.S. government was due to report August hiring, prompting hopes a weak job market might delay the end of stimulus that supports stock prices. A survey earlier by payroll processor ADP found companies added fewer jobs than expected, while an industry group said manufacturing employment fell.

Investors are making “perverse bets” that low U.S. jobs numbers “will nudge the Fed to defer taper for longer, thereby buoying markets,” said Venkateswaran Lavanya of Mizuho Bank in a report.

Investor optimism had been boosted by strong U.S. corporate profits and the spread of coronavirus vaccinations. But the more contagious delta variant and measures to stop it are weighing on business and consumer activity.

On Wall Street on Thursday, the benchmark S&P 500

rose 0.3% to 4,536.95. The Dow Jones Industrial Average

gained 0.4% to 35,443.82. The Nasdaq

advanced 0.1% to a record 15,331.18.

Forecasters expect the Labor Department numbers to show U.S. employers added 750,000 jobs last month, pushing the unemployment rate down to 5.2%. That would be less than monthly average of 940,000 in June and July.

The Fed has indicated it might begin winding down bond purchases of $120 billion a month that pump money into the financial system but likely will keep interest rates low until a recovery is confirmed.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude

lost 3 cents to $69.96 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.40 on Thursday to $69.99. Brent crude
the price basis for international oils, advanced 13 cents to $73.16 per barrel in London. It rose $1.44 the previous session to $73.03 a barrel.

The dollar

edged up to 109.99 yen from Thursday’s 109.97 yen.

MarketWatch contributed to this report.

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