Asian shares advance slightly after Wall Street loses ground

TOKYO (AP) — Most Asian stock markets posted mild gains Friday as investors hunted for bargains following a three-day losing streak.

Sentiment remained guarded, however, as an overnight fall on Wall Street and a weak U.S. jobs report reinforced worries about the world's biggest economy.

South Korea's Kospi added 0.6 percent to 1,731.68, and the Shanghai Composite index rose 0.3 percent to 2,581.79. Solid metals prices triggered buying in miners, which helped push Australia's S&P/ASX 200 up 0.3 percent to 4,415.5. BHP Billiton Ltd. jumped nearly 1 percent.

Benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and New Zealand also advanced.

Missing out were the region's two biggest bourses - Tokyo and Hong Kong. Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell 0.4 percent to 9,175.30, and the Hang Seng index slipped 0.1 percent to 21,095.17.

Japanese auto shares retreated amid angst about the U.S. economy and the long-term implications of a strong yen, which hit a 15-year high against the dollar earlier this week. The yen softened Friday after Japanese officials expressed concerns about currency levels, though it is likely to resume rising if the government refrains from intervention.

Honda Motor Co. fell 1.6 percent, and Nissan Motor Co. lost 0.8 percent.

In Australia, shares of Telstra Corp. continued its descent after a disappointing earnings report sent the country's largest telecommunications company down almost 10 percent Thursday.

In New York Thursday, the Dow Jones industrials fell 0.6 percent, to 10,319.95.

A weekly Labor Department report showed that the number of people filing for unemployment benefits for the first time rose last week to 484,000. The gain was small, but economists had expected the number to drop. The news pointed to continuing weakness in the labor market, yet another sign that the economic recovery is slowing.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.5 percent to 1,083.61, and the Nasdaq composite index fell 0.8 percent to 2,190.27.

In currencies, the dollar climbed to 86.06 yen from 85.87 yen late Thursday. The euro stood at $1.2832 from $1.2828.