Asian stock markets cheered by US jobs report, eyes on Chinese data

TOKYO – Asian stock markets were cheered Monday by a healthy U.S. jobs report that sent the S&P 500 to its biggest gain since early September.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.0 per cent to 19,698.15 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.1 per cent to 5,155.70. But South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.5 per cent to 1,963.67. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was up 0.2 per cent at 22,278.88 and China’s Shanghai Composite gained 0.1 per cent to 3,529.30. Stock benchmarks also rose in Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia.

U.S. JOBS: The Labor Department reported that employers added 211,000 jobs in November. That was more than investors expected, and a sign that consumers are still spending and keeping the American economy afloat even as manufacturing and energy companies struggle. The data cements expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates from a record low at its policy meeting next week. Low interest rates have been a boon for stock markets for several years, but investors also welcome increased certainty about the Fed’s likely actions after months of guesswork and anxiety.

WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average rose 369.96 points, or 2.1 per cent, to end Friday at 17,847.63. The Standard & Poor’s 500 had its best day since Sept. 8, rising 42.07 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 2,091.69. The Nasdaq composite increased 104.74 points, or 2.1 per cent, to 5,142.27 points.

THE QUOTE: “U.S. markets have rejoiced in the fact that Friday’s payrolls were strong enough to cement expectations of a hike next week, but not strong enough to influence the path of rate hikes in 2016,” said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia. “The market is assigning a 40 per cent probability of a second rate hike by March, which would effectively bring the Fed funds rate to a new range of 50 to 75 basis points,” he said in a research report.

CHINA DATA: Market players are also focusing on a slew of economic data due from China. Pessimism about slowing growth in the region’s biggest economy has dragged on market sentiment recently. Foreign exchange reserves are due Monday, trade on Tuesday, inflation on Wednesday and retail sales, industrial production and fixed asset investment on Saturday.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 35 cents to $39.62 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures contract fell $1.11, or 2.7 per cent, to $39.97 a barrel in New York on Friday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, dropped 25 cents to $42.75 in London. It fell 84 cents, or 1.9 per cent, to $43 on Friday.

CURRENCIES: The dollar was trading at 123.28 yen, up from 123.12 yen on Friday. The euro slipped to $1.0868 from $1.0884.


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