Asia stocks hit four-week high after strong US jobs data
SYDNEY – Asian share markets enjoyed a relief rally on Monday as upbeat US jobs data lessened immediate concerns about the health of the world’s largest economy, while the long-run fallout from Brexit kept sovereign yields near record lows.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS jumped 1.9 percent to a one-month top. Australia added 1.8 percent and Shanghai .SSEC 1 percent. Japan’s Nikkei .N225 climbed 3.5 percent, its biggest daily gain in three months, following a clear win by the government in upper house elections. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s ruling coalition won a landslide victory giving it the power to potentially revise the nation’s post-war pacifist constitution for the first time.
“Abe’s victory boosted confidence in investor sentiment, and winning a two-thirds majority sends foreign investors a message that Abe’s policies will see a progress,” said Hikaru Sato, a senior technical analyst at Daiwa Securities. The Asian rebound came after news the US economy added 287,000 jobs last month, well above median forecasts and recovering from a very weak May report.
In the end, investors concluded the data was not strong enough to revive the prospect of a rate hike from the Federal Reserve for the next few months, benefiting bonds and stocks. The Dow .DJI gained 1.4 percent, while the S&P 500 .SPX firmed 1.53 percent and the Nasdaq .IXIC 1.64 percent. The rise set the seal on an eight-session run that has seen US equities add $1.4 trillion to market capitalization.
Fed officials are scheduled to speak several times this week, offering plenty of opportunities for the market to glean clues about policy. One major event this week will be a Bank of England meeting on Thursday when it might well cut its 0.5 percent rate to offset the economic drag from the vote to leave the European Union. Governor Mark Carney has already opened the door to easing, including the expansion of its 375 billion-pound bond-buying program.
NO END TO UNCERTAINTY
The only question was timing, with analysts in a Reuters poll divided on whether a cut would come this week or in August. Various reports out Monday argued for urgent action, with consumer spending falling last month, the business outlook darkening by the most in four years and economic activity in London slowing sharply.
“The outcome of the UK referendum has dealt a significant shock to the outlook for the global economy,” warned Christian Keller, an economist at Barclays. “It introduced a higher uncertainty about Europe’s future, and raised questions about globalization more generally,” he added. “Confidence and financial channels could potentially propagate the effects to the US, China and beyond.”
That was one factor behind the relentless demand for sovereign debt that has driven down yields, which move inversely to prices, and kept the pound at its weakest since 1985. Benchmark US 10-year paper US10YT=RR was paying 1.37 percent, with Japan at -0.28 percent and Germany -0.20 percent.
Sterling was stuck at $1.2950 GBP=D4 on Monday, having failed utterly to rebound from the 13 percent loss suffered in the immediate wake of Brexit. The Japanese yen eased a little to 100.71 per dollar JPY=, while the euro stayed on the defensive at $1.1049 EUR= having touched a low of $1.1003 on Friday.
In commodity markets, spot gold XAU= was a shade higher around $1,368.40 per ounce. Crude prices edged down to near two-month lows on seasonally weak consumption, despite comments from Saudi Arabia’s oil minister that the oil market was becoming more balanced. Brent crude LCOc1 was down 39 cents at $46.37 a barrel, while NYMEX crude CLc1 fell 45 cents to $44.96. -Reuters