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Tuesday, April 23, 2024

World markets track US higher after jobs report

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Asian stock markets rose Monday as investors took a surprisingly weak U.S. jobs report as a sign that interest rates in the world’s largest economy will stay low longer than expected. European shares opened higher.

Also buoying sentiment were bullish corporate earnings results and gold’s climb above $1,108 an ounce.

Asia’s gains followed Wall Street, where stock indexes climbed modestly Friday after the government said the U.S. unemployment rate surpassed 10 percent last month for the first time since 1983.

While clear evidence of America’s economic woes, the climb in joblessness still gave investors reassurances the Federal Reserve will need to keep its bank lending rate at a record low range of zero to 0.25 percent for the time being. Low interest rates tend to slow demand for the dollar and support liquidity, which can in turn boost stocks.

“The economic sector is still weak, and we can expect no interest rate hike in the near term,” said Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong. “So all this is helping the U.S. market and the Hong Kong markets to remain firm.”

Now that Asian investors have digested the U.S. labor market data, their focus will likely shift back to mainland China, Yip said. Several key economic indicators are due out this week, including retail sales, industrial output and the consumer price index.

During early trade in Europe, Britain’s FTSE 100 added 0.9 percent, Germany’s DAX was up 1.3 percent and France’s CAC-40 gained 1.1 percent.

In Asia, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 1.7 percent to 22,207.55, and Japan’s Nikkei stock average edged up 0.2 percent to 9,823.90.

Benchmarks in mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand also advanced.

Financial and insurance stocks were sharply higher in several markets.

Australia’s AXA Pacific Holdings Ltd. soared more than 32 percent after the insurer rejected a $10 billion takeover bid from rival AMP Ltd. and French parent AXA SA. The rebuff raised investor hopes for a higher offer.

In Japan, Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group Holdings Inc. surged 8.6 percent after the nonlife insurer reported better-than-expected earnings results for the April-September half.

Earnings hopes bolstered Chinese issue as well, sending the Shanghai Composite Index up for a seventh straight session.

“The euphoria carried on, as investors were confident to see a profitable fourth quarter based on reports for the past three months,” said Li Xianmin, an analyst for Pingan Securities in the southern city of Shenzhen.

Shares in companies linked to renewable energy rose ahead of U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Beijing next week on hopes the two governments will discuss possible measures to promote the industries.

Chinese gold miners soared on higher gold prices. Shandong Gold Mining Co. soared 7.7 percent and Zijin Mining Group Co. added 3.3 percent.

Ongoing concerns about the strong yen pressured the Tokyo market, with the country’s major exporters taking a hit. The dollar fell under the 90 yen line Friday, though recovered slightly in Monday trading.

Nissan Motor Co. lost 2.3 percent, while Panasonic Corp. fell 2 percent.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 17.46, or 0.2 percent, to 10,023.42. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index closed up 2.67, or 0.3 percent, at 1,069.30.

U.S. futures pointed to a higher open on Wall Street Monday. Dow futures added 56 points, or 0.6 percent, to 10,034, and S&P futures rose 7.5 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,073.70.

Oil prices shot higher in Asia as Hurricane Ida threatened oil installations in the Gulf of Mexico. Benchmark crude for December delivery was up 94 cents to $78.37; the contract fell $2.19 on Friday.

Gold prices continued their march higher, trading up $10, or about 0.9 percent, at $1,105.7. Prices hit a high of $1,108.8 during the session.

The dollar was trading at 90.08 yen from 89.97 yen late Friday. The euro stood at $1.4934 from $1.4885.

© 2009 Associated Press. Displayed by permission. All rights reserved.

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