Asian shares mixed

HONG KONG - Asia's markets were mixed Friday as dealers returned from the May Day break to healthy manufacturing data from the United States and China as well as an upbeat assessment of the US economy.

Traders were keeping an eye on the release of jobs figures due out of Washington later in the day, while a recent batch of strong indicators helped the dollar edge up against the yen.

Tokyo eased 0.19%, after rallying 1.27% on Thursday. Hong Kong added 0.57%, or 126.70 points, to 22,260.67, and Manila closed 0.52% higher, adding 35.06 points to 6,742.97.

The US Federal Reserve on Wednesday said the world's number one economy was picking up after a severe winter that saw growth slow to just 0.1 percent in the first quarter of the year.

The central bank said that with the cold weather now behind it, the country would likely enjoy a recovery, adding that it would further reduce its stimulus programme by US$10 billion a month to $45 billion.

On Thursday China said its official measurement of manufacturing activity improved in April for a second straight month. The official purchasing managers index (PMI) came in at 50.4, the National Bureau of Statistics said, up from 50.3 in March.

A reading above 50 indicates growth and anything below points to contraction.

That was followed later in the day by a report from the US Institute for Supply Management that showed its PMI at 54.9 last month from 53.7 in March. That beat analysts' consensus estimate of 54.5.

Other data from Washington on Thursday showed a jump in consumer spending. The focus is now on Friday's non-farm payrolls figures for April, with tentative expectations that it will show the economy is rebounding after the near-stall in the first quarter.

On Wall Street the Dow slipped 0.13% after hitting a record high following the Fed announcement on Wednesday, while the S&P 500 was flat and the tech-rich Nasdaq rose 0.31%.

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