By Willa Plank

Nikkei up slightly, China stocks fall after a week off

Stock investors were struggling for footing Friday as encouraging economic data this week was counterbalanced by concern of political risk surrounding the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.

"Everyone is talking about it...the U.S. could be moving away from globalization," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG.

But investors know it is going to take time for any effects to appear, Weston added. "We aren't going to see it in economics and statistics for some while," he said. "It isn't causing a shock."

Trading in the U.S. was listless the day before, while Asianstock indexes posted some sizable declines Thursday afternoon amid further weakness in the dollar -- which crimps exporters' earnings -- with the Nikkei, Japan's benchmark stock index, falling 1.2%.

On Friday, the Nikkei started the morning solidly rising as much as 0.8% before gains faded. Stocks rebounded after the lunch break after the Bank of Japan offered to buy at a fixed rate Japanese government bonds maturing in five to 10 years.

The 10-year JGB yield fell to 0.105% after touching a one-year high of 0.150% on earlier disappointment from a separate Bank of Japan announcement regarding government bonds. Yields fall when bond prices rise.

Strong earnings reports helping lift prices. Chemical and cosmetics producer Kao (4452.TO) was up 3.9% while Sony (6758.TO) gained 6.3% and hit an 18-month high after saying it still expects to be profitable this fiscal year despite a nearly $1 billion write-down on its film-and-TV business.Elsewhere, Korea's Kospi and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 were both little changed. And after being dark for a week following the Lunar New Year holiday, the Shanghai Composite was down about 0.5%. That came as fresh data Friday showed slowing improvement in Chinese manufacturing last month. But some analysts were positive on the data, which included a bounce in new export work.

"Fundamentals haven't changed," said Alex Furber, sales trader at CMC Markets. "Data this week is pretty healthy."

That includes initial jobless claims in the U.S. declining a bigger-than-expected 14,000 last week. But more important will be nonfarm-payroll data due out later today in the global day. The strong ADP report on private payrolls Wednesday indicated a robust start for the U.S. job market this year.

But the Nikkei Hong Kong Purchasing Managers Index fell to 49.9 in January from 50.3 in December, showing the city's private-sector economy broadly stagnant at the start of the year, index compiler IHS Markit said Friday. The Hang Seng Index was down 0.6%.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 02, 2017 23:48 ET (04:48 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2017 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.