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Update: Most Asian stocks rise as investors await US employment report

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Most Asian stocks rose, led by Chinese shares trading in Hong Kong, as investors awaited a monthly government report on US jobs to gauge the strength of the world's largest economy.

[SYDNEY] Most Asian stocks rose, led by Chinese shares trading in Hong Kong, as investors awaited a monthly government report on US jobs to gauge the strength of the world's largest economy.

Great Wall Motor surged 13 per cent in Hong Kong to a two-month high as carmakers and developers climbed after China cut mortgage requirements and passenger-vehicle tax. Galaxy Entertainment Group jumped 10 per cent after a report the government may unveil measures to support Macau tourism. Westpac Banking Corp lost 2.1 per cent as Australia's largest lenders dragged on the regional equities gauge.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.2 per cent to 126 as of 4:14 pM in Hong Kong. The gauge touched a three-year low this week. Economists expect US employers to have added about 201,000 workers in September after a gain of 173,000 in August. The data will factor into the Federal Reserve's next rate decision, due Oct 28, as the central bank also weighs global financial-market turmoil. The regional benchmark index is on course to rise 0.8 per cent this week, with mainland Chinese markets currently shut for a weeklong holiday.

"The jobs report is definitely front and center," Michael Cuggino, a San Francisco-based fund manager at Pacific Heights Asset Management LLC, told Bloomberg TV. "After that, people are going to quickly pivot to corporate earnings and the Fed, once again." Japan Stimulus Japan's Topix index gained 0.2 per cent amid low trading volume, with rubber and paper producers climbing. Bank of Japan officials see little need for an immediate expansion of monetary stimulus and would prefer to hold off to get a clearer picture of the economic outlook, according to people familiar with their deliberations.

Board members who gather for a policy meeting Oct 6-7 want the opportunity to observe further economic data and developments in financial markets at home and abroad, according to the people, who asked not to be named because talks are private.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index rose 3.2 per cent and the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index of mainland firms listed in the city advanced 3 percent as trading resumed after a holiday and the government stepped up targeted support for the economy. China Resources Land jumped 8.7 per cent after the People's Bank of China reduced the minimum home down payment for first- time buyers.

Chinese policy makers are increasing targeted stimulus after five interest-rate reductions since November failed to reverse an economic slowdown. The decline in the property down- payment requirement was the first in five years, while the support measures for the auto industry follow five straight months of declining sales. The nation's growth will slow to 6.8 per cent this year, below the government's goal of 7 per cent, according to the median of economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

"China is likely to roll out new policies in the fourth quarter," said Hao Hong, chief China strategist at Bocom International Holdings Co in Hong Kong. "We are looking for more fiscal stimulus, such as favorable tax treatment and industry-specific policies on property, auto, new energy and environmental protection. A short covering rally such as today will be strong but brief and difficult to trade. The rally tends to fizzle out once shorts have covered their position."

Taiwan's Taiex Index rose 0.1 per cent. Singapore's Straits Times Index lost 0.4 percent and South Korea's Kospi index retreated 0.5 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index sank 1.2 perc ent. New Zealand's NZX 50 Index added 0.1 percent. Markets in India are closed for a holiday.

E-mini futures on the Standard & Poor's 500 Index gained 0.3 per cent. The underlying gauge rose 0.2 per cent in New York on Thursday, reversing a drop of as much as 1 per cent.

American manufacturing barely grew in September. The Institute for Supply Management's factory index fell to 50.2, the weakest since May 2013, the Tempe, Arizona-based group reported Thursday. Fifty is the dividing line between expansion and contraction.

The odds of a hike this month have held at or below 20 per cent since policy makers decided to hold fire at their last meeting, citing weaker-than-hoped-for inflation and risks to global growth emanating from China. Traders are now pricing in a 44 per cent probability of a rise in December and about 52 per cent chance of a January liftoff.

BLOOMBERG