Stock markets mostly rise before US jobs

Stock markets mostly rise before US jobs

The yen -- one of the worst performers this year -- has surged on bets the Bank of Japan will move away from its ultra-loose monetary policy
The yen -- one of the worst performers this year -- has surged on bets the Bank of Japan will move away from its ultra-loose monetary policy. Photo: Richard A. Brooks / AFP
Source: AFP

Stock markets mostly gained and the dollar firmed Friday before the release of key US jobs data, but Tokyo was knocked by the yen's recent rally.

All eyes were on the jobs data and what impact it would have on the outlook for US interest rates amid speculation the Federal Reserve may cut borrowing costs in early 2024 as inflation cools.

Hopes for lower rates after a succession of hikes were behind last month's rally for global equities.

December was still waiting to take off, however, owing to acceptance that buying might have been too strong in November.

There is also some reticence among traders owing to concerns that the weaker economic readings suggest that the US economy could tip into recession.

Friday's figures come as inflation continues to come down and US job openings and private payrolls slowed in November.

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"The jobs report is likely to provide additional indications of the labour market softening, a welcome sign for employers," said Jose Torres at Interactive Brokers.

"Its impact on markets, however, will depend on whether investors view the data as a stepping stone to a March rate cut and soft landing, or an adverse effect on consumer spending and a sharper economic slowdown."

Wall Street's three main indices ended on a strong note Thursday, led by the Nasdaq as tech giants outperformed.

Asian markets mostly ended higher Friday and Europe was largely ahead nearing the half-way stage.

Tokyo dropped more than one percent, however, as the yen continued to rise against the dollar, hurting exporters.

The currency surged almost four percent at one point Thursday after Bank of Japan boss Kazuo Ueda said handling monetary policy "will become even more challenging from the year-end and heading into next year".

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The remarks suggested the bank was on the brink of shifting away from its long-running ultra-loose monetary policy, notably an absence of interest-rate hikes, put in place to kickstart growth.

The comments were made a day after deputy governor Ryozo Himino played down the adverse consequences of such a move on the economy.

Elsewhere, oil prices jumped about two percent after tanking earlier in the week on slowing demand concerns, also as China's economy struggles.

Its state broadcaster CCTV on Friday reported President Xi Jinping saying that China's economic recovery is "still at a critical stage", as sluggish domestic activity and property sector woes drag on a post-pandemic rebound.

Key figures around 1115 GMT

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.3 percent at 7,539.45 points

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.8 percent at 7,488.96

Frankfurt - DAX: UP 0.2 percent at 16,667.61

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.6 percent at 4,498.63

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Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 1.7 percent at 32,307.86 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.1 percent at 16,334.37 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.1 percent at 2,969.56 (close)

New York - Dow: UP 0.2 percent at 36,117.38 (close)

Dollar/yen: UP at 144.55 yen from 144.10 yen on Thursday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.0785 from $1.0797

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2584 from $1.2587

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.70 pence from 85.76 pence

West Texas Intermediate: UP 1.8 percent at $70.58 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.9 percent at $75.48 per barrel

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Source: AFP

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