By V. Phani Kumar, Colin Ng and Wei-Zhe Tan
HONG KONG (MarketWatch) -- Asian markets ended mixed in choppy trading Friday as investors remained cautious ahead of U.S. jobs data and on deepening concerns of an economic slowdown.
Australian shares ended flat, offsetting weakness in energy producers after an overnight drop in crude-oil prices.
This came on the heels of the government announcing a compromise for its controversial tax on Australian mining projects. The revision offers the industry major concessions compared to the original draft.
Interview: Japan's Senior Vice Finance Minister
Motohisa Ikeda, senior vice finance minister of Japan, speaks about the yen and the Bank of Japan in an interview with The Wall Street Journal.
"With increasing signs of cooling in both domestic and overseas economies, investors are getting jittery and prefer to remain on the sidelines," said Wang Junqing, analyst with Guosen Securities in Shanghai.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 finished little changed after declining in the previous eight sessions, and Japan's Nikkei Stock Average climbed 0.1%, snapping a five-session losing streak. Both benchmarks overcame intraday losses as several regional indexes wavered between gains and losses.
/zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA 25,409.36, -357.28, -1.39%
China's Shanghai Composite rose 0.4%, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dropped 1.1%, South Korea's Kospi fell 0.9%, Taiwan's Taiex advanced 1.1% and India's Sensex inched up 0.2% in afternoon trading.
Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.39% futures were one point lower in screen trade, as U.S. investors awaited key data on nonfarm payrolls for June.
"Equity markets have succumbed again to the deflationary signal being sent in recent weeks by the dramatic rally in the U.S. government bond market," CLSA managing director and equity strategist Christopher Wood wrote in a note.
"The odds favor a further decisive decline, sooner or later, most likely driven by continuing negative focus on the accelerating deflationary condition of certain parts of euro-land, and the negative consequences this poses to euro-land bank balance sheets," he added.
In Australia, the mining-tax revision is a big win for the industry, said Select Equities analyst David Spotswood. The changes should remove somewhere between a third to half of the impact of the original tax proposal on a company like BHP Billiton /zigman2/quotes/201448516/delayed AU:BHP -4.52% /zigman2/quotes/208108397/composite BHP -3.58% , he noted, adding that the original tax proposal had foreign investors worrying about the potential for the government to make more surprise tax and regulatory changes.
"There was a lot of selling from offshore investors of Australia shares last month. ... This should alleviate that, so it is good news," he said.
Shares of Rio Tinto /zigman2/quotes/200083756/delayed AU:RIO -3.47% rose 0.3% and Fortescue Metals Group /zigman2/quotes/202351558/delayed AU:FMG -6.41% climbed 2%, while Alumina /zigman2/quotes/210515632/delayed AU:AWC -0.27% added 0.7%. Read full story.
Regional energy companies' shares broadly declined after crude prices ended below $73 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange.