Monday, October 5, 2015

Asian stocks rise as weak US jobs dampen prospects of near-term Fed hike

Asian stocks rose early on Monday after prospects of a near-term interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve ebbed in the wake of Friday's weaker-than-expected U.S. employment data.

Data released Friday showed U.S. non-farm payrolls rose by 142,000 in September, considerably lower than the 203,000 jobs the markets had expected.

The lacklustre jobs report, which also showed a stall in U.S. hourly wage growth, fuelled doubts that the world's largest economy was robust enough to withstand a rate hike before year-end.

The possibility of the Fed delaying the lift-off date for rates also meant its loose policy, which has helped shore up risk assets globally by providing cheap cash, would continue a little longer. The Dow and S&P 500 both gained more than 1 per cent Friday after initially shedding more than 1.5 per cent.

"The print will completely rule out this month for a rate rise in the U.S. and will put the December meeting in doubt. The market reactions to the non-farm payrolls are unmistakeable - they see it as a trend and have recycled the 2012 to 2014 adage of, 'bad news is good news'," wrote Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne.

Taking an early lead from Wall Street, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.7 per cent. South Korea's Kospi rose 0.6 per cent and Australian shares gained 1.9 per cent.

Tokyo's Nikkei jumped 1 per cent.

Safe-haven government bonds were up on the downbeat U.S. jobs data, with benchmark 10-year Treasury yields dropping to near 6-week lows on Friday. German Bund yields dropped to 4-month troughs.

In currencies, the greenback was on the defensive, with the dollar index treading water at 95.907 after losing 0.4 percent overnight.

The dollar was little changed at 119.975 yen after gyrating between 120.415-119.90 yen on Friday in the wake of choppy post-U.S. jobs data trade.

The euro was steady at $1.1217, climbing to as high as $1.1319 on Friday, a 10-day peak.

Crude oil prices dipped slightly early on Monday following a rally on Friday. U.S. crude futures were down 0.5 per cent at $45.31 after surging 1.8 per cent on Friday when a report of a continuing U.S. oil rig count helped offset the weak employment data.

Gold stood tall after surging 2.2 per cent overnight as the weak U.S. jobs data dented rate hike hopes and worked against the dollar. Spot gold was steady at $1,137.20 an ounce after Friday's surge.

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