Most Asian markets traded higher on Friday even as a raft of upbeat US economic data suggested that the country's Federal Reserve could taper its $85bn bond-buying stimulus in September.

The Japanese Nikkei finished 1.45% lower or 204.01 points at 13,860.81.

Australia's S&P/ASX finished 0.05% higher or 2.50 points at 5,145.00.

South Korea's Kospi finished 0.19% higher or 3.66 points at 1,955.31.

India's BSE Sensex was trading 0.97% higher or 184.90 points to 19,164.66.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng was trading 0.28% higher or 64.14 points to 22,662.11.

The Shanghai Composite was trading 0.87% higher or 18.36 points to 2,140.79.

Data for the month of August showed that the US services sector grew at its fastest pace in about eight years. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said its services index rose to 58.6, from 56 in July. The August reading is the highest since December 2005.

Meanwhile, government data showed that weekly jobless claims dropped to a near five-year low. Weekly claims fell by 9,000 to 323,000 just as the private sector 176,000 jobs in August.

The US economy added 200,000 jobs in July, according to payroll processing major ADP.

Market participants will be tracking the widely-watched US nonfarm employment report due later in the day, as it could influence the US Federal Reserve's monetary stimulus decision, when the Fed's FOMC meets on 17 September.

Wall Street Up

On Wall Street, indices ended slightly higher following mostly positive economic data.

The Dow finished 6.61 points higher at 14,937.48. The S&P 500 closed 2 points higher at 1,655.08 while the Nasdaq ended 9.74 points higher at 3,658.78.

Company Stock Movements

In Tokyo, real estate developer Heiwa Real Estate lost over 4%. Rivals Mitsubishi Estate and Mitsubishi Fudosan were down 3% each.

Suntory Beverage & Food jumped 1.5% on news that it is in advanced talks to acquire GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena drink brands for more than £1bn ($1.6bn, €1.19bn).

Troubled utility firm Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco) dropped 2.5% after Japan's nuclear watchdog pulled up the operator of the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, saying it put out "misleading" data about the recent leaks of contaminated water. Japan has pledged to spend close to $500m on clean-up efforts at the Fukushima disaster site.

Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, said information provided by Tepco regarding the level of radioactive contamination was "scientifically unacceptable".

In Shanghai, China Merchants Securities and Haitong Securities inched up 0.8% each. China restarted bond futures trading on 6 September, following an 18-year hiatus. However trade will be restricted to a limited set of investors, including brokerages and mutual funds.

Henan Shanghui Invesment, the parent company of Shanghui International, lost 0.7%. Shanghui is expected to receive US approval for its buyout of Smithfield Foods.

In Mumbai, mining and banking stocks weighed on the index. Sesa Goa lost about 5% while Coal India, the world's biggest coal miner, shed over 2%.

HDFC Bank, India's largest lender by market value, lost 3% percent after rallying over 6% on 5 September.

In Sydney, gold miner Kingsgate Consolidated dropped 8% while rival Newcrest Mining shed over 3% on lower gold prices.

In Seoul, Hyundai Motor gained over 2%. The management and striking unions agreed on a provisional wage deal that will bring to an end a series of strikes, which began late last month.

Automaker Kia Motors and auto components maker Hyundai Mobis too gained over 2% following the news.