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Markets Right Now: Stocks drift ahead of US payrolls data

LONDON – The Latest on Financial Markets (all times local):

11:20 a.m.

European stock markets are trading lower ahead of key U.S. jobs data that could go a long way to determining whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates again in June.

The payrolls report is always the most highly anticipated release of the month. April’s could be even more important than usual given the uncertainty over whether the Fed will hike rates in June. The consensus in the markets is that the U.S. economy added around 200,000 jobs during April. Perhaps of more interest is what the report says about wages in the U.S. given the Fed’s current focus on prices.

Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA, says the “bigger concern for the Fed right now is inflation, with wages not growing nearly as much as they would like to see.”

Germany’s DAX is down 0.6 per cent at 9,795 while the CAC-40 in France has fallen 1 per cent to 4,276. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares is 0.8 per cent lower at 6,071.

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7:45 a.m.

Asian markets were mostly lower in nervous trading Friday ahead of a closely watched U.S. jobs-report that may influence interest rate decisions and the value of the U.S. dollar.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 lost 0.3 per cent to 16,106.72 as Tokyo resumed trading after the three-day “Golden Week” national holidays. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged 0.3 per cent higher to 5,358.60, while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index slipped 1.2 per cent to 20,194.84. The Shanghai Composite sank 1.8 per cent to 2,945.08. Markets were closed in South Korea for a national holiday.

Markets are focusing on the U.S. jobs report for April, due out later in the day, that is expected to show jobs grew by 200,000 last month while the unemployment rate stayed at 5 per cent.

Benchmark U.S. crude oil lost 33 cents to $43.99 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, used to price international oils, was down 29 cents at $44.72 a barrel in London.

The euro fell to $1.1415 from $1.1490 and the dollar fell to 107.07 yen from 107.10 yen.