Asian markets rise after bumper US jobs data

HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets rose Monday as investors were cheered by a blockbuster US jobs report last week, while trade was thin owing to the three-day Lunar New Year break.

Expectations that the Federal Reserve will take its foot off the gas in raising interest rates and optimism that China and the United States will eventually hammer out a deal to resolve their long-running trade war were also providing support.

With most of the region closed this week for an extended holiday there are few catalysts to drive business, though dealers took heart from Friday’s strong US non-farm payrolls numbers.

The world’s biggest economy added 304,000 new posts in January, almost double what was expected and the strongest reading for almost a year, while growth in pay held steady above inflation.

All three main indexes on Wall Street ended with gains and that filtered through to Asia.

Hong Kong added 0.3 percent in the morning, Tokyo went into the break 0.5 percent higher, Sydney climbed 0.5 percent and Singapore was up 0.2 percent.

Jakarta edged up but there were small losses in Wellington and Manila.

Shanghai, Seoul, Taipei and several other markets were closed for the holidays.

Peter Wilmshurst, a portfolio manager at Templeton Global Equities in Melbourne, said 2019 could see a recovery in equities.

“If we see some sort of inflection in economic growth stabilising, then people can have more confidence in earnings,” he told international source.

The plunge in prices last year “leaves the valuations of many stocks around the world looking pretty interesting to us, particularly outside the US”.

On currency markets the dollar held its gains against the yen and the pound though observers pointed out that the rally in the greenback from the jobs data was limited as dealers focus on the Fed’s slower pace of rate hikes.

Key figures around 0230 GMT

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 29,897.85 (break)

Hong Kong – Hang Seng: UP 0.3 percent at 27,999.35

Shanghai – Composite: Closed for a public holiday

Euro/dollar: DOWN at $1.1457 from $1.1459 at 2200 GMT Friday

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.3081 from $1.3084

Dollar/yen: UP at 109.54 yen from 109.51

Oil – West Texas Intermediate: UP 16 cents at $55.42 per barrel

Oil – Brent Crude: UP 17 cents at $62.92 per barrel

New York – Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 25,063.89 (close)

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 7,020.22 (close)

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