Asian stocks head higher ahead of US employment data
Softer jobs data would raise the possibility of the Federal Reserve turning less aggressive on its policy tightening
Asian shares rose broadly on Friday morning after softer-than-expected US employment data raised the possibility of the Federal Reserve turning less aggressive on its policy tightening stance in coming months.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.45%, riding on a strong Wall Street close overnight. Japan’s Nikkei was up 0.96%, and shares in Seoul opened up 0.77%, while Australia’s resource-heavy index was up 0.81%.
Overnight, tech stocks led a rally on Wall Street, lifting the S&P 500 1.84%, the Nasdaq Composite 2.68% and the Dow Jones Industrial Average 1.29%.
On Thursday, the ADP National Employment Report showed US payrolls rising at a slower-than-expected pace last month.
Investors are now looking to the US labour department’s comprehensive jobs report, due later on Friday, for confirmation of a slowdown in the employment market, which could convince the Federal Reserve to go slow on interest rate hikes for the rest of the year.
“For equities right now, anything that might be viewed as capping the Fed’s tightening could be viewed as supportive,” said ING’s Asia head of research Rob Carnell.
“So, therefore, weak macro data becomes positive for stocks.”
Economists expect about 325,000 jobs were added last month in the US and believe unemployment ticked lower to 3.5%.
“Any deviation from these figures that shows the labour market hanging together better than this might well be negative for equities and vice versa,” Carnell said.
Inflation is the biggest worry for the Fed and global policymakers. Fed officials have said that US interest rates would likely continue to be raised aggressively unless inflation moderates.
“Front-end rate hike pressure that had built the day prior on robust economic data immediately eased off after a weaker than expected May ADP employment print, suggesting things are cooling off,” said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management.
Markets have locked in consecutive 50-basis-point Fed hikes in June and July but the dollar has been pushed around this week by uncertainty about what happens after that.
The US dollar currency index, which tracks the greenback against six major currencies, was 0.039% lower at 101.71, pausing a rally earlier in the week.
The yen has been kept under pressure by super-low interest rates in Japan, and was last steady at 129.80/$, having lost 2% on the greenback this week.
US Treasury yields were mixed ahead of the non-farm payrolls data.
The benchmark 10-year yield was at 2.9168% while the two-year yield, which tends to be sensitive to US rate expectations, was down at 2.6438%.
Oil prices ticked up after US crude inventories fell amid high demand, even as Opec+ agreed to boost production. Brent futures were up 0.09% at $117.72 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude stood at $116.94.
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