By Nichola Saminather and Hideyuki Sano SINGAPORE/TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares were mixed on Friday as caution about a U.S. jobs report jostled with signals from the European Central Bank that it is willing to take further steps to shore up the European economy. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.2 percent after rising in early trade. Japan's Nikkei fell 0.9 percent, extending losses this week to 6.0 percent.
The U.S. trade deficit fell in July to its lowest level in five months as exports rose broadly, signaling underlying strength in the economy amid concerns about a global growth slowdown. While other data on Thursday showed an increase in the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits, the trend in jobless claims remained consistent with a strengthening labor market. "There is little evidence that the abrupt deterioration in financial market conditions and the heightened concerns about the global economy have begun to affect the U.S. economy," said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody’s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
The FT cited three U.S. officials as saying the sanctions probably would come next week in advance of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit later in the month. Suspicions that Chinese hackers were behind a series of data breaches in the United States have been an irritant in relations between the United States and China. The United States is also considering sanctions against Russian individuals and companies for cyber attacks, U.S. officials have told Reuters.
By Liana B. Baker NEW YORK (Reuters) - Qualcomm Inc's President Derek Aberle, under pressure from activist hedge fund Jana Partners to improve the licensing and chip design firm's stock performance, on Thursday sounded a cautionary note about a potential breakup of the company. Stressing that the board and management do not expect to complete a review of a possible split until the end of the year, Aberle told Reuters that Qualcomm agrees with Jana that its stock is undervalued. Aberle said that investors calling for a split are taking a "sum of the parts" analysis and believe that Qualcomm's two divisions - its highly profitable licensing arm and its chips unit - would be valued more highly as independent companies.
Oil prices eased in Asian trade on Friday as investors turned cautious ahead of U.S. jobs data later in the day which is expected to play into the Federal Reserve's decision on the timing of any U.S. rate hike. "There's been a little bit of up and down and range-bound movement which has all the hallmarks of a market marking time," said Ben Le Brun, market analyst at Sydney's OptionsXpress. Brent crude for October delivery fell 21 cents to $50.47 a barrel as of 0156 GMT, after ending the previous session 18 cents higher.