US-China trade talks, currencies and stocks in focus
Greater China markets were weak for most of the trading day, weighed down by losses in the financial and metals sectors. The Shanghai Composite edged down 0.32 percent to 3,091.03, while the Shenzhen Composite lost 0.21 percent to close at 1,789.07.
The Hang Seng Index declined 1.06 percent at 3:13 p.m. HK/SIN, with financials and tech weighing down the index.
In Australia, the ASX 200 was down 0.58 percent to finish at 6,062.90, with losses seen in the heavily weighted financials subindex.
The Kospi dropped 1.04 percent to close at 2,461.38, with declines in the autos and tech sectors. Index heavyweight Samsung Electronics, which resumed trade on Friday after a halt, lost 2.08 percent.
Japanese markets were closed on Friday for a holiday.
|ASX 200||S&P/ASX 200||6062.90||-35.40||-0.58%|
|CNBC 100||CNBC 100 ASIA IDX||8552.64||-34.67||-0.40%|
On U.S.-China trade talks, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Friday — the second and likely final day of the talks — that "very good conversations" have been taking place.
The discussions, led by Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, are expected to cover a wide range of U.S. complaints about China's trade practices, from accusations of forced technology transfers to state subsidies for technology development.
However, a breakthrough deal is viewed as highly unlikely.
"Substantive progress on IP protections and cutting the US goods/trade deficit with China by a fixed amount seem some way off, or unlikely," ANZ analysts said in a note.
Ahead, markets will watch U.S. jobs data due during U.S. hours, with the April report likely to underscore labor market strength.
Wall Street also eyed Washington amid more news regarding Trump's legal troubles regarding a hush payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
In corporate news, HSBC reported a 4 percent fall in profit before tax for its first quarter earnings. The bank's revenue for the quarter, meanwhile, climbed to $13.71 billion from $12.993 billion a year ago. Following the results release, its shares in Hong Kong were down 3.47 percent at 3:19 p.m. HK/SIN.
In Australia, Macquarie Group announced its full year results, with full year net profit at $2.56 billion Australian dollars ($1.92 billion). Its shares were up 0.24 percent at the end of trading, despite most Australian financials declining.
In its debut in Hong Kong, shares of Ping An Group's Good Doctor online health care platform were up slightly at 0.18 percent from its issue price. It had raised $1.12 billion after pricing its public offering at HK$54.80 a share.
In currencies, the dollar traded at 109.04 against the yen at 3:22 p.m. HK/SIN, which was slightly below Thursday's session low of 109.14. The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of currencies, last traded at 92.547 — below a four-month high hit earlier this week.
Oil prices held mostly steady after gains seen in the last session, when investors were focused on the possibility of the U.S. imposing sanctions against Iran.
Brent crude futures were down 0.29 percent to trade at $73.42 a barrel. U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude was slightly down at 0.15 percent to trade at $68.33 a barrel.
— CNBC's Fred Imbert and Thomas Franck and Reuters contributed to this report.
European stocks close higher after US payrolls data; Ferrari up 7.7%
Looking at the European benchmark, Ferrari led the gains and its share price hit a record high, after better-than-expected earnings led to a number of ratings upgrades for the automaker. The stock was up 7.7 percent.
It was a tough trading day for French banks, however, after reporting their latest figures. Societe Generale sank near to the bottom of the European benchmark, down by more than 5 percent. Net banking income stood at 6.294 billion euros for its first quarter of 2018 — a drop of 2.5 percent from a year ago. This was due to a weaker performance in its domestic retail activity, as well as lower revenues in its global banking and investor solutions division.
BNP Paribas was off by more than 1 percent. It reported a 17 percent fall in net income during the first quarter of the year, highlighting "lackluster" trading activity in Europe.
U.S. authorities accused former Volkswagen chief Martin Winterkorn of conspiring to cover up the German automaker's diesel emissions cheating, Reuters reported.
In Italy, Telecom Italia shareholders voted to form a new board; Elliott Management won the vote, securing two-thirds of seats on the board.
Trade talks, nonfarm payrolls
The unemployment rate fell to 3.9 in the U.S. while nonfarm payrolls rose by a worse-than-expected 164,000. Nonfarm payrolls data is particularly important to assess the health of the U.S. economy and project whether the Federal Reserve is going to increase rates.
Trade talks between China and the U.S. carried on for their second and likely final day. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday that the discussions have been very good. Markets fear that there could be a trade war between both countries if an agreement isn't reached.
Earlier, services PMIs in Spain showed a slowdown in recent months, as job creation also took a breather. There will also be services PMIs in Germany at 08:55 a.m. London time. On Thursday, European bond yields fell across the region following disappointing inflation numbers.
Dow closes up more than 300 points after Apple sparks tech rally
The Dow Jones industrial average closed 332.36 points higher at 24,262.51 thanks to a 3.9 percent rally in Apple's stock, which jumped after famed investor Warren Buffett revealed that he bought millions of shares of the iPhone maker in recent months. By the closing bell, Apple had posted a gain of 13.45 percent for the week, its best since October 2011.
The S&P 500 rose 1.2 percent to finish at 2,663.42 after falling 0.4 percent earlier in the day, buoyed by a nearly 2 percent gain in tech, which led all 11 sectors for gains. The Nasdaq composite rose 1.7 percent to close at 7,209.62, its first positive day in the last three sessions. The index was led higher by the aforementioned rally in Apple, a 1.4 percent gain in Facebook and a 2.4 percent boost in Google-parent Alphabet.
The positive numbers on Friday, however, were not enough to offset weekly losses for the Dow and S&P 500, each down roughly 0.2 percent since Monday.
Leading the strong numbers in stocks Friday, Apple jumped sharply after billionaire investor Warren Buffett revealed that he bought 75 million shares during the first quarter, which added to the conglomerate's already massive stake in the tech giant.
Buffett estimated that Berkshire Hathaway's cash position dipped to "a little over" $100 billion because of lots of stock buying in the first three months of the year.
In its earnings report this week, iPhone sales were still up from a year ago, and Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a statement that customers "chose iPhone X more than any other iPhone each week in the March quarter."
"Tech is having a good day and obviously Apple is helping. The Warren Buffett headlines have helped give momentum to share prices," said Quincy Krosby, chief market strategist at Prudential Financial.
Tech also rose after a 4.5 percent bump in Activision Blizzard, which reported adjusted earnings and revenue that beat Wall Street expectations Thursday. The company reported its official numbers after Dow Jones reported a few incorrect headlines about its financial report earlier on Thursday.
The Labor Department reported that the economy added 164,000 jobs in the month of April, lower than the 195,000 expected by economists polled by Reuters. Average hourly earnings growth also missed, rising only 0.15 percent against expectations of a 0.2 percent gain.
"I also think the unemployment report was helpful for the bears and was also helpful for the bulls: It underscores the tug-of-war in the market," Krosby added. "You had a pullback in the wages, but then again, if you look below the headline number, it shows strength. It helps assuage fears that inflation in galloping higher."
Overall, Krosby said, market volatility has fallen back into a more comfortable range and valuations have become a little more attractive, though perhaps not enough to drive a significant uptick in trading volume.
Still, markets have been keeping an eye on interest rates and signs of burgeoning inflation.
Despite the miss in the number of jobs added, the government said the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, an 18-year low.
"I was surprised we had a bit of a sell-off there," said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist at TD Ameritrade. "You're a little bit light on the top line, and a little bit disappointing on the wage growth, but there was very little job loss and a revision higher from what was considered a very disappointing read last month."
Changes in the average hourly earnings numbers are closely watched by members of the Federal Reserve as a bellwether for inflation. Hourly earnings have been increasing at about a 2.7 percent pace, which is above the recovery pace but still short of where Federal Reserve officials are targeting.
Still, the average hourly earnings miss wasn't large enough to derail fears of more aggressive tightening from the Fed, TD Ameritrade's Kinahan added.
Those who fear rising rates "can find something in here to say it's good enough to keep down the path to four hikes this year," he said. "The other thing is, after we had that big down move yesterday and then came back, there's a bit of a natural pressure early in the day."
The average hourly earnings figure can reveal rising input prices at businesses throughout the economy, a phenomenon usually followed by rising consumer prices.
San Francisco Fed President John Williams – who is set to become New York Fed President in June – told CNBC that he could see the unemployment rate continuing to trend downward over the next several years.
"I see the unemployment rate getting down to 3.5 percent, I see us maybe modestly overshooting our 2 percent inflation target, so there may be a time over the next few years where the federal funds rate is slightly above its long-run neutral rate," Williams told CNBC's Steve Liesman. "You have to think about this in the context of the economic outlook."
The moves in U.S. stocks came as markets across the globe showed a mixed picture. On Friday, markets in the Asia-Pacific region closed mostly lower, while in Europe, stocks edged higher during the session; the Stoxx Europe 600 rose 0.6 percent.
Members of the United States' delegation continued trade negotiations in China.
The U.S. trade delegation's visit to Beijing ended Friday with little obvious progress in resolving a trade dispute between the two economic powerhouses.
"The two questions are: how does the state sponsorship or state-owned enterprises work in a global economy and the more transactional side of the trade equation, the import-export dynamic," said Ben Phillips, chief investment officer at EventShares.
"The things the Chinese are giving aren't new. They are things they were already going to give," he added. "We're looking for new initiatives. We haven't seen a real win yet."
The United States is prepared to impose further tariffs on Chineseproducts if Beijing walks away from its commitments, according to a reporter at the Wall Street Journal.
In a tweet posted Friday, Lingling Wei, a China economics correspondent at The Wall Street Journal, said the U.S asked China to reduce its trade surplus by at least $200 billion by year-end 2020.
—CNBC's Patti Domm contributed to this report.