06 May 2024, 10:10

Asian markets build on rally as US jobs data boost rate cut hopes

 HONG KONG, May 6, 2024 (BSS/AFP) - Most Asian markets rose Monday after data showing fewer US jobs were created last month rekindled optimism interest rates will be cut this year, while mainland Chinese equities bounced on hopes for fresh government economic support.

A tech rally saw the Nasdaq lead Wall Street up after Friday's non-farm payrolls figures, which helped soothe concerns that forecast-busting inflation figures at the start of the year meant the Federal Reserve would keep borrowing costs at two-decade highs for an extended period.

The 175,000 new jobs in April's NFP report were much lower than the month before and also marked a big miss on expectations, while wage growth was also slightly lower than forecast.

Observers pointed out that while the reading indicated a slowdown in the world's number two economy, it was not seen as a big enough miss to feed fears that a recession is on the horizon.

The news ramped up bets on the Fed cutting rates in September while investors also lifted their outlook on how many there would be, though the two priced in are still well short of the six envisaged at the start of the year.

"The softer wage growth and a slight increase in unemployment may ease some of the Federal Reserve's concerns about implementing rate cuts this summer," said Stephen Innes at SPI Asset Management.

"The unexpected weakness across the key labour series is a much-needed friendly surprise for policymakers."

The advances on Wall Street on Friday -- and another record for London -- gave Asian investors a healthy lead, and most picked up the baton.

Shanghai was the standout performer as mainland investors returned from a long break to play catch-up with a global rally over the past few days.

Traders also cheered a report last week that leaders would look at ways to support China's battered property sector as well as use measures to provide fresh support to the economy.

The tools outlined encompassed interest rates and the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve, Bloomberg News reported.

"Market sentiment appears to be incrementally improving," Nicholas Yeo, of abrdn, said, pointing to improving traveller figures, market reforms and strong corporate releases.

"More material support via larger-than-expected fiscal spending and additional help for the property market would go a long way to materially improve sentiment in China."

Hong Kong edged up to push recent gains into a tenth successive trading day, while Sydney, Singapore, Taipei and Manila were also up. Wellington and Jakarta edged down.

The dollar rose against the yen, clawing back some of the big losses it suffered Friday in response to the US jobs report.

The Japanese unit endured a volatile time last week after hitting its weakest level in 34 years, leading authorities to reportedly intervene in forex markets Monday and Wednesday.

- Key figures around 0300 GMT -

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.2 percent at 18,505.51

Shanghai - Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 3,135.57

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: Closed for a holiday

Dollar/yen: UP at 153.75 yen from 152.99 yen on Friday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0765 from $1.0767

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2549 from $1.2546

Euro/pound: UP at 85.79 from 85.78 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.4 percent at $78.38 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: UP 0.3 percent at $83.19 per barrel

New York - Dow: UP 1.2 percent at 38,675.68 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.5 percent at 8,213.49 (close)



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