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Asian markets rise as US jobs data ease rate pressure on Fed

Asian stocks rose on hopes the Federal Reserve has come to the end of its interest rate hiking cycle following a positive US jobs report.

Wall Street. — © AFP
Wall Street. — © AFP

Asian stocks rose Monday on hopes the Federal Reserve has come to the end of its interest rate hiking cycle following a positive US jobs report.

Confidence has been buoyed recently by a string of reports pointing to a softening of the labour market and signs the economy is slowing, indicating the central bank’s monetary tightening is kicking in.

Adding to the upbeat mood was hope that China will continue to unveil measures to boost its stuttering economy and beleaguered property sector.

While the 187,000 new jobs in August was more than forecast, the figures for the previous two months were revised significantly lower, while wage growth cooled.

The readings suggested the economy was not in danger of tipping into recession while at the same time slowing enough to justify not lifting borrowing costs any further — a so-called “Goldilocks” scenario.

“Fed chair (Jerome) Powell, or President (Joe) Biden for that matter, probably couldn’t have scripted a better August employment report if they’d tried,” said Ray Attrill at National Australian Bank.

“The Goldilocks metaphor is much used and abused in economic and financial circles, but in relation to the various ‘soft landing’ signals emanating from the report, on this occasion it does seem entirely appropriate.

“The upshot of Friday’s report is that the market-implied chances of a Fed rate hike of 20 September have reduced to about seven percent from 12 percent beforehand.”

After a broadly positive day on Wall Street, Asia enjoyed a healthy start to the week.

Hong Kong jumped almost two percent as investors played catch-up with Friday’s regional advance after being closed because of a typhoon.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney, Seoul, Singapore, Taipei, Manila and Jakarta were also in the green.

Investors are also keeping an eye on China, hoping for more measures to stimulate the economy after a number of announcements last week, including reducing mortgage down-payments and tax incentives.

“While these individual easing measures may not appear substantial, their collective implementation clearly signals policymakers’ intentions to stabilise the property market, spur economic growth, and boost overall sentiment,” said SPI Asset Management’s Stephen Innes.

“Further targeted measures are anticipated to be incrementally introduced until policymakers are content with the achieved results.”

However, observers say that traders are yearning for the government to unveil a big-bang stimulus similar to the $550 billion seen in 2008 during the global financial crisis.

News that battered developer Country Garden had won approval from creditors to extend a deadline for a key bond repayment, narrowly avoiding a potential default, provided some much-needed relief from worries over the property sector.

– Key figures around 0230 GMT –

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.6 percent at 32,899.99 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: UP 1.9 percent at 18,727.96

Shanghai – Composite: UP 1.0 percent at 3,164.12

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 146.17 yen from 146.25 yen on Friday

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0785 from $1.0777

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2599 from $1.2590

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.56 pence from 85.58 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.2 percent at $85.68 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.1 percent at $88.60 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 34,837.71 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,464.54 (close)

AFP
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With 2,400 staff representing 100 different nationalities, AFP covers the world as a leading global news agency. AFP provides fast, comprehensive and verified coverage of the issues affecting our daily lives.

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