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Asian stock markets mixed after Wall Street surge

Asian stock markets were mixed Thursday after Wall Street surged to its biggest daily gain since July despite uncertainty about the global outlook.

Benchmarks in Tokyo, Seoul and Sydney advanced. Shanghai and Hong Kong opened higher but were in negative territory by midday.

Wall Street's benchmark S&P 500 index gained 1.5% on Wednesday after a report on hiring that some analyst said might indicate the U.S. job market recovery could be fading.

Investors have been encouraged by central bank infusions of credit into struggling economies and hopes for a vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic that has plunged the world into its deepest slump since the 1930s. Forecasters warn the stock market recovery might be running too far ahead of economic activity as the United States and some other countries reimpose anti-virus controls that hamper business.

“The irony of market exuberance is rich,” said Mizuho Bank in a report. “Record highs on Wall St. make a mockery of policymakers grasping for recourse to the worst downturn in decades.”

The Shanghai Composite Index was off less than 0.1% at 3,402.69 while the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 1.1% to 23,502.82. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong lost 0.3% to 25,042.65.

The Kospi in Seoul advanced 1.3% to 2,395.44 and Sydney's S&P-ASX 200 was up 0.9% at 6,115.90. India's Sensex opened up 0.1% at 39,125.26. New Zealand and Bangkok gained while Singapore and Jakarta retreated.

U.S. stocks have gained despite lack of agreement in Congress on a new economic aid package with additional unemployment benefits to support consumer spending.

A report Wednesday by payroll processor ADP, widely watched as a forerunner of government employment data due out Friday, showed the private sector added 428,000 jobs in August, less than half the 1 million expected by forecasters.

Analysts said that could be a warning sign the job market is cooling after some U.S. states reimposed anti-virus controls and the expiration of supplemental unemployment benefits cut into consumer spending.

"Bullish stock market sentiment seems to be nearing a tentative peak as the labor market recovery stalls," said Edward Moya of Oanda in a report.

Also Wednesday, the U.S. Federal Reserve said its August survey of businesses found enduring uncertainty over the pandemic and the harm it causes to consumer and business activity.

The S&P 500 rose to 3,580.84. The index is up 10.8% this year following a five-month streak of gains. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.6% to 29,100.50.

The Nasdaq composite added 1% to 12,056.44. The tech-heavy Nasdaq is up 34.4%, driven by gains for Apple and other technology giants that investors believe are safe bets as the public spends more time on internet-connected devices.

Health care and communications stocks also helped to drive Wednesday's rally.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil for October delivery was unchanged at $41.51 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract slid $1.25 on Wednesday. Brent crude, the basis for pricing international oils, lost 8 cents to $44.35 per barrel in London. It dropped $1.15 the previous session to $44.43 a barrel.

The dollar rose to 106.28 yen from 106.16 yen on Wednesday. The euro declined to $1.1812 from $1.1855.

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