Asian shares higher ahead of US jobs report

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Most Asian markets were higher on Friday with investors waiting for the key monthly US jobs report.

If it shows strong employment growth, it could raise the prospect of the US central bank increasing interest rates sooner rather than later.

Any move could strengthen the dollar against the yen, helping Japanese exports. The Nikkei 225 closed up 1.2% at 18,971 - a fresh 15-year high.

Shares in electronics company Sharp rose 1.7%.

The move followed a report that Sharp had asked a corporate turnaround fund, Japan Industrial Solutions, to take a stake of up to $250m (£164m) to help with its restructuring.

Shares in FamilyMart dropped 2.2% while UNY rose 11% following a report that the two were considering a merger. A deal between the two would create Japan's second-largest convenience store chain.

Chinese shares ended the day little changed. The Shanghai Composite index closed down 0.2% at 3,241.19, while in Hong Kong, the Hang Seng index ended down 0.1% at 24,164.00.

Australian shares were similarly placed with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 closing down 0.1% at 5,898.9 following a choppy trading session.

South Korean shares finished at a five-month high as foreigners snapped up stocks.

The Kospi index ended 0.7% higher at 2,012.94, marking its seventh consecutive week of gains.

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