Sat, Apr 04, 2015 - Page 14 News List

Asian shares rise in quiet trade before US jobs data

FED WATCH:Los Angeles-based trader Kazuo Shirai said that investors are cautious because recovery in the US labor market has been going in a straight line

AFP, HONG KONG

Asian markets rose yesterday in holiday-thinned trade as investors looked ahead to the release of US jobs data later in the day, while Shanghai retreated on profit-taking after a recent rally.

Wall Street provided a positive lead following another round of upbeat US indicators, although the US dollar dipped against the yen.

Tokyo rose 122.29 points, or 0.63 percent, to 19,435.08, while Seoul added 16.35 points, or 0.81 percent, to 2,045.42.

Shanghai closed up 38.15 points, or 1 percent, to 3,863.93 before a long holiday weekend, and the Shenzhen Composite Index, which tracks stocks on China’s second exchange, jumped 37.37 points, or 1.83 percent, to 2,080.4.

Kuala Lumpur was flat.

Taiwan, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Singapore, Mumbai, Sydney, Wellington and Manila were closed for public holidays. Financial markets in Taiwan and China will be closed on Monday.

With few catalysts to drive trade, investors are biding their time until the release in Washington of the US non-farm payroll figures, which will be pored over for clues about the US Federal Reserve’s timetable to hiking interest rates.

“We’re likely to be in a wait-and-see mode today” before the jobs report and given the holidays, Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Nomura Holdings Inc in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News.

US data on Thursday showing an unexpected fall in the number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits raised hopes for another strong labor reading, but not all strategists were convinced that the consensus expectation would be met.

A weaker-than-expected jobs report would prompt investors to increase bets that the Fed might hold off on raising interest rates until late this year.

On Wall Street on Thursday, the Dow added 0.37 percent, the S&P 500 gained 0.35 percent and the NASDAQ rose 0.14 percent.

In forex trade, the US dollar edged down to ¥119.67 yesterday afternoon from ¥119.77 in New York late on Thursday.

The euro changed hands at US$1.0883 and ¥130.22 against US$1.0879 and ¥130.30 in New York.

The US dollar, which has been rallying this year on speculation about the first rate hike since 2006, has lost some steam over the past few weeks as talk of an early summer move retreated.

“Investors are all the more cautious because up to now the recovery in the labor market has been going in a straight line,” said Kazuo Shirai, a Los Angeles-based trader at MUFG Union Bank NA.

“If payrolls come out below 200,000, a June move by the Federal Reserve will become unlikely and a shift back to expectations for a September hike will push down the dollar,” he told Bloomberg News.

Oil markets were closed for trade yesterday. Crude prices tumbled on Thursday after six world powers and Iran announced that they had agreed on a framework to curb the Islamic republic’s nuclear drive.

With the tentative deal, if confirmed, likely to allow Iran crude exports back on the markets, Brent North Sea crude, the global benchmark contract, slumped US$2.15, settling at US$54.95 a barrel.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate shed US$0.95 to close at US$49.14.

Gold fetched US$1,199.50 against US$1,203.48 late on Thursday.

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