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Asia stocks mixed as oil jumps, jobs report eyed

Asian stock markets were mixed Friday as the oil price hit a 30-month high and investors awaited a key U.S. jobs report.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average was down 0.1 percent at 9,744.34 as authorities sought French and U.S. expertise to regain control of a nuclear power station that is leaking radiation after being damaged in the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.1 percent to 23,496.45 and Taiwan's benchmark was off 0.2 percent at 8,667.60.

Elsewhere, South Korea's Kospi added less than 0.1 percent to 2,107.11 and China's Shanghai Composite Index gained 0.2 percent to 2,932.33.

Benchmark crude for May delivery was up 38 cents at $107.10 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange after settling at a 30-month high of $106.72 the day before.

The gains came as fighters loyal to Moammar Gadhafi pushed back rebels from key areas in eastern Libya, dimming chances that the OPEC member's crude exports will resume soon.

A sustained rise in the oil price is a risk for world economic growth as it would force increases in the cost of gasoline, food and other necessities, reducing people's discretionary spending.

The attention of investors is also focused on Friday's U.S. nonfarm payrolls report for March. The unemployment rate is expected to remain unchanged at 8.9 percent.

The figures often set the stock market tone for a week or two after their release. They could have an even bigger impact this time as investors gauge when the Fed will begin raising interest rates.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 30.88 points, or 0.3 percent, to 12,319.73 on Thursday. That's just 72 points shy of its Feb. 18 high for the year. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 2.43, or 0.2 percent, to 1,325.83. The Nasdaq composite rose 4.28, or 0.2 percent, to 2,781.07.

In currencies, the euro was little changed at $1.4157. The dollar rose to 83.66 yen from 83.07 late Thursday in New York.