World stocks fluctuate as investors await US jobs report; yen hits 6-year low

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HONG KONG – Global stock markets fluctuated as investors waited for a key U.S. jobs report later Friday and currencies struggled against the dollar’s strength, which sent the Japanese yen to a six-year low.

KEEPING SCORE: France’s CAC 40 edged 0.1 per cent higher to 4,489.55 while Britain’s FTSE 100 retreated 0.1 per cent to 6,867.73. Germany’s DAX gained 0.2 per cent to 9,741.57. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower, with Dow futures down 0.1 per cent to 17,055. Broader S&P 500 futures lost 0.2 per cent to 1,994.20.

CURRENCIES: The dollar is gaining strength after the ECB’s rate cut and the Bank of Japan’s decision Thursday to hold steady on stimulus even after a GDP contraction in the second quarter. The dollar was at 105.25 yen after rising as high as 105.71 yen, the highest level since October 2008, from 105.38 in late trading Thursday. The euro was near a 14-month low of $1.2946 from $1.2937.

US JOBS: Investors are standing pat ahead of a U.S. jobs report later Friday. Economists expect it will show that the world’s biggest economy added 220,000 jobs in August, which would be the seventh month in a row of gains exceeding 200,000. The report is likely to influence market expectations of when the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates.

THE QUOTE: “Institutional investors remain sidelined ahead of tonight’s non-farm payrolls read,” said CMC Markets Chief Strategist Michael McCarthy. “Broadly expected to confirm the U.S. economic recovery, the market reaction is harder to predict.”

ASIA’S DAY: Regional benchmarks were mixed, with Japan’s Nikkei 225 index ending less than 0.1 per cent lower at 15,668.68. South Korea’s Kospi dipped 0.3 per cent to 2,049.41 and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.2 per cent to 25,240.15. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.9 per cent to 2,326.43. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 per cent to 5,598.70. Benchmarks in Taiwan and Singapore fell while those in Thailand, Philippines, Indonesia and New Zealand gained.

ENERGY: The price of oil rebounded after slumping on a report that U.S. supplies fell less than expected last week. Benchmark crude oil added 22 cents to $94.67 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Stock Exchange after falling 1.1 per cent, or $1.09, to settle at $94.45 on Thursday.

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