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Asia Pacific stocks higher ahead of U.S. jobs report; airline stocks mostly soar

Stocks in Asia Pacific were higher on Friday as investors awaited the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report expected later in the day stateside.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 rose 0.74% to close at 22,863.73 while the Topix index added 0.54% to end its trading day at 1,612.48. South Korea's Kospi jumped 1.43% to close at 2,181.87 as shares of LG Chem surged 3.95%. 

Mainland Chinese stocks gained on the day. The Shanghai composite rose 0.4% to about 2,930.80 while the Shenzhen component added 0.371% to approximately 11,180.60. Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 1.66%, as of its final hour of trading, with shares of HSBC jumping about 3.2%.

Meanwhile, the S&P/ASX 200 in Australia closed 0.12% higher at 5,998.70.

Airline stocks regionally surged. In Japan, shares of Japan Airlines skyrocketed 9.74% while ANA Holdings jumped 7.06%. Similar gains were seen in South Korea, where Korean Air Lines soared 7.57% while Asiana Airlines gained 4.87%.

In Hong Kong, China Southern Airlines jumped 10.43% in afternoon trade. Shares of Singapore Airlines in Singapore, however, dipped 0.68%.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index rose 0.86%.

Developments on economic stimulus as countries attempt to recover from the coronavirus pandemic likely continued to be watched. The European Central Bank on Thursday said it will increase in its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme by 600 billion euros.

Overnight stateside, the S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite saw their first decline in five sessions.

The moves on Wall Street came as the Labor Department said 1.877 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits last week, higher than a Dow Jones estimate of 1.775 million. Investors will now look ahead to the Labor Department's monthly jobs report release, expected at 8:30 a.m. ET Friday.

"Every single leading indicator for non-farm payrolls that we follow signal fewer job losses but a number of these reports saw only small improvements which means that non-farm payrolls, while better could miss expectations," Kathy Lien, managing director of foreign exchange strategy at BK Asset Management, wrote in a note.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was last at 96.53. That followed a decline from levels above 98 seen earlier this week.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.31 per dollar after weakening from levels below 108 earlier in the trading week.

"To see some dollar weakness and some yen weakness at the same time is not surprising," Nicolas Sopel, global market strategist at Fitch Solutions, told CNBC's "Street Signs" on Friday. This was because both currencies were used as safe-havens during the worst of the crisis in recent months, he said.

If the risk rally continues, Sopel said, the two currencies could see a little "further weakness."

The Australian dollar changed hands at $0.6989 after seeing an earlier high of $0.7004.

Oil prices rose in the afternoon of Asian trading hours, with international benchmark Brent crude futures up 1.05% to $40.41 per barrel. U.S. crude futures also added 0.61% to $37.64 per barrel.