AP Business Writer
BANGKOK (AP) -- Japan's benchmark stock index surged Friday after the dollar hit a four-year high against the yen. Gains were modest elsewhere as traders digested a positive U.S. jobs report.
The Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo jumped 2.8 percent to 14,581.95 after the dollar traded above 100 yen for the first time since April 2009. Traders have been selling the Japanese currency in reaction to moves by the government of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to stimulate the economy by pursuing super-loose monetary policy.
South Korea's Kospi fell 1.3 percent to 1,954.13 amid jitters over competition with Japan, whose weakened currency puts South Korean exporters at a disadvantage.
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.3 percent to 5,214.70. Benchmarks in the Philippines and Singapore also rose while those in mainland China and Taiwan fell.
Unemployment claims dropped to a five-year low last week, the Labor department reported early Thursday. That signals fewer layoffs and possibly more hiring.
While the report failed to boost stocks, it did give the dollar a lift. The U.S. currency climbed against most major currencies and traded above 100 yen for the first time in more than four years. The Japanese currency has weakened dramatically this year due to the Bank of Japan's massive monetary stimulus.
An improvement in hiring at U.S. employers has been one of the key factors that pushed Wall Street up to record levels.
The Dow Jones industrial average climbed above 15,000 for the first time Tuesday. Stocks eased back Thursday. The Dow fell average fell 0.2 percent to close at 15,082.62. The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 0.4 percent to 1,626.67. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.1 percent to 3,409.17.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 21 cents to $96.18 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 23 cents to finish at $96.39 a barrel on Nymex on Thursday.
The euro rose to $1.3040 from $1.3012 late Thursday in New York.
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