SINGAPORE/TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares were mixed on Friday as caution about a U.S. jobs report jostled with signals from the European Central Bank that it is willing to take further steps to shore up the European economy. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan slipped 0.2 percent after rising in early trade. Japan's Nikkei (.N225) fell 0.9 percent, extending losses this week to 6.0 percent.
The U.S. trade deficit fell in July to its lowest level in five months as exports rose broadly, signaling underlying strength in the economy amid concerns about a global growth slowdown. While other data on Thursday showed an increase in the number of Americans filing new applications for unemployment benefits, the trend in jobless claims remained consistent with a strengthening labor market. "There is little evidence that the abrupt deterioration in financial market conditions and the heightened concerns about the global economy have begun to affect the U.S. economy," said Ryan Sweet, a senior economist at Moody?s Analytics in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
The FT cited three U.S. officials as saying the sanctions probably would come next week in advance of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit later in the month. Suspicions that Chinese hackers were behind a series of data breaches in the United States have been an irritant in relations between the United States and China. The United States is also considering sanctions against Russian individuals and companies for cyber attacks, U.S. officials have told Reuters.