Japan : Asian stocks rise as investors hunt for yield; Aussie shines
TOKYO : Asian shares rose on Monday and the dollar stood tall after a stronger-than-expected July jobs report lifted confidence in the strength of the U.S. economy – heightening expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve could hike interest rates this year.
July nonfarm payrolls rose by 255,000 jobs and the June increase was revised upward to 292,000, the Labor Department said. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast July payrolls would increase by 180,000.
“The robust U.S. labor market data raise the chances for monetary policy normalization by the Fed, but uncertainties for the U.S. remain high as well,” wrote strategists at Barclays.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS rose 0.2 percent in early trading, after gaining 0.7 percent last week. U.S. shares logged solid gains on Friday, with both the S&P 500 .SPX and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC closing at record highs.
Japan’s Nikkei stock index .N225, which skidded 1.9 percent last week in the face of a strengthening yen, was 1.6 percent higher in early trade.
The dollar was up 0.3 percent at 102.07 yen JPY=. It was steady against the euro at $ 1.1085 EUR=.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was 0.1 percent higher at 96.295 .DXY, not far from a one-week high of 96.522 hit on Friday after the jobs report.
“The dollar appears to be holding strong for now, but after this week, there are lots of uncertainties,” said Masafumi Yamamoto, chief currency strategist for Mizuho Securities.
While major currencies are expected to stick to recent ranges, market participants say thin market conditions could amplify moves, and higher U.S. rates were far from guaranteed.
After the U.S. jobs report, Fed fund futures priced in an 18 percent chance the central bank would raise rates as early as its September policy meeting, from 9 percent late Thursday, according to the CME’s FedWatch tool. Futures showed about a 47 percent chance of a December hike, compared with about 32 percent on Wednesday last week.
Spot gold XAU= shed 0.1 percent to $ 1,333.26 an ounce, a low not seen since July 29.
Crude oil futures, which ended modestly lower on Friday, rose in early trading. U.S. crude CLc1 added 0.6 percent to $ 42.03 a barrel, while Brent crude LCOc1 was up 0.4 percent at $ 44.45.
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