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Aussie shares erased the last of their gains for the week as risk aversion gripped regional markets ahead of tonight’s US jobs report.

A second day of falls saw the ASX 200 drop 59 points or 0.9 per cent by the middle of the session, plunging the index into the red for the week. A week that began with three straight advances looked set to end with a whimper as traders locked in profits ahead of two potential market-moving events in the US tonight: monthly jobs data and another day of negotiations with China over trade.

Overnight, Wall Street closed mixed and off session lows after President Donald Trump said a trade deal could be announced within four weeks. The S&P 500 added 0.21 per cent and the Dow a more robust 0.64 per cent.

The Nasdaq trimmed its loss to less than 0.1 per cent. Here, the tech sector took the biggest hit, falling 2.2 per cent as high-flying technology leaders gave up some of their recent gains.

Bravura Solutions tumbled 6 per cent, Appen 5.3 per cent, Altium 4.8 per cent and Wisetech 4.8 per cent. Afterpay resisted the cold wind blowing through the sector, rising 3.1 per cent to a fresh all-time high at $24.65. Yield stocks accounted for much of the index’s losses. Health fell 1.6 per cent as CSL shed 1.7 per cent and Cochlear 2.7 per cent.

The utilities sector gave up 1.2 per cent and consumer staples 1.7 per cent. All four big banks lost ground, with NAB the worst of the bunch with a decline of 1.6 per cent to a two-week low.

Winners today included automotive retailer Automotive Holdings, which jumped 14.6 per cent on news of a takeover offer from rival A.P. Eagers. Investors welcomed the merger offer by boosting shares in A.P.

Eagers 6 per cent. Engineering firm SRG Global rallied 12.5 per cent after announcing a three-year deal to supply drill and blast services to Evolution Mining’s gold operations. A low-key session in Asia today, with trade in China and Hong Kong suspended for public holidays.

Japan’s Nikkei edged up 0.2 per cent. Meanwhile, US stock futures reversed early losses after Chinese President Xi Jinping said there had been substantial progress in trade talks. S&P 500 futures were lately up two and a half points or 0.1 per cent. Crude oil futures retreated overnight in the US and were lately sitting near steady at $US62.07 a barrel.

Gold futures have settled just below $US1,300 an ounce this week and were lately at $US1,295.20. The dollar was buying 71.18 US cents.

Looking ahead to tonight, while it is all about jobs and trade in the US, across the Atlantic European finance ministers are due to meet in Brussels to discuss a range of issues, including Brexit.

ASX by the numbers
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