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Asian markets were mixed on Friday ahead of monthly jobs data from the U.S. with Alumina (AWCMY) one of the major gainers after it ended a dispute with Alcoa (AA) - Get Report through an arrangement that could make the Australian group more attractive to bidders.
Oil prices picked up, with West Texas intermediate recently up 0.90% at $43.55. In an interview with Bloomberg, Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an Opec production freeze with an exemption for Iran, which has only recently started selling to the global market after sanctions were lifted. Putin also said a sale of the state's 19.5% holding in oil producer Rosneft could happen as early as this year if the government could find a suitable strategic investor.
In Japan an above -forecast gauge of consumer confidence failed to set decisive tone, with the Nikkei 225 down 0.01% at 16,925.68 and the Topix up 0.25% at 1,340.76.
The government survey of about 8,400 households resulted in an index up 0.7 point at 42, above the 41.6 reading expected.
In Hong Kong the Hang Seng was up 0.47% at 23,270.77.
On mainland China, indices were mixed, with the CSI 300 composite index up 0.35% at 3,313.06.
U.S. stock futures were little changed. S&P 500 mini futures were recently up 0.01% and Dow Jones mini futures were up 0.03%.
In Sydney the S&P/ASX 200 closed down 0.79% at 5,372.80.
Alumina was up 5.8% after striking a pact with its joint venture partner in Alcoa World Alumina & Chemicals. The peace deal involves amendments to facilitate Alcoa's planned split of its manufacturing business from its legacy smelting and refining segments. At the same time, the agreement eases investment restrictions on the joint venture in a move seen as making Alumina more attractive to bidders.
Alcoa is held in Jim Cramer's charitable trust Action Alerts PLUS. See all of his holdings here.
Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) was up up 0.6%. It was due to hold a press conference later amid expectations that battery problems will prompt a global recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls data comes out at 8.30 a.m. Eastern time.
Any figure significantly above the jobs growth of around 180,000 expected, which would come after unexpectedly high growth of 255,00 roles last month, could send markets into a tailspin after Federal Reserve boss Janet Yellen's recent hints that a rate rise - possibly as early as this month - could be in the cards amid improving economic indicators.