Asian shares in muted Friday trade

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Shares across Asia traded mixed on Friday, failing to pick up the positive lead from Wall Street.

US markets had finished higher on expectations that February job figures out later on Friday would show a strong pace of growth.

Asia’s biggest market, Japan’s Nikkei 225 remained flat at 16,928.72 points.

Shares in the embattled electronics firm Sharp rose 10% on new reports it was close to a deal with Taiwan’s Foxconn.

The jump came after the Nikkei business daily reported that Sharp and Foxconn parent company Hon Hai Precision Industry were continuing talks with both sides seeking to conclude a takeover deal by Monday.

Earlier talks had been delayed when Foxconn said it had received new information from Sharp which needed to be clarified.

BHP downgrade

In Australia, the ASX 200 traded flat at 5,085.10 points.

Shares of commodity giant BHP Billiton rose by 1.6% with investors unfazed by a downgrade by credit ratings agency Moody’s.

Moody’s cut its ratings of the Anglo-Australian firm to “A3” from “A1”, citing the deterioration in the company’s earnings and cash flow as reasons.

The ratings agency also said it expected low commodity prices and softer demand to continue to affect BHP.

Samsonite bags Tumi

Chinese shares were equally lacklustre with the mainland benchmark Shanghai Composite trading remaining unchanged at 2,855.8 points.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was higher by 0.6% at 20,057.67 points.

Samsonite shares jumped 5.9% as the company confirmed that it was taking over US luxury rival Tumi.

In South Korea, the Kospi index fell slightly by 0.3% to 1,952.04 points.

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