Asian stocks set to follow US jobs rally, China in focus
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Asian stocks were likely to track a firmer Wall Street session on Friday after strong US jobs data although growing Sino-US tensions and a worrying surge in coronavirus cases is likely to cap gains.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 futures JNIc1 rose 0.45% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 futures YAPcm1 climbed 0.58%. E-mini futures for the S&P 500 EScv1 rose 0.14%.
“While June data reflected a big improvement in the US labor market, the recent sharp acceleration in new virus cases plus the prospect of an end to unemployment benefits by the end of July are two big layers of uncertainty,” said NAB Markets analyst Rodrigo Catril, adding that the uptick in US cases could mean extended headwinds for the labor market.
Wall Street ended Thursday higher following a record increase in payrolls and a decline in unemployment. US markets are closed on Friday in observance of Independence Day.
However, investor focus is shifting to worsening strains between China and the United States.
More than 75 U.S. members of congress sent a letter to the President Donald Trump urging him to take make a formal determination on whether China’s treatment of Muslim Uighurs and other groups constitutes an atrocity.
The US State Department also warned American companies including Amazon.com Inc, Walmart Inc and Apple Inc to check their supply chains and ensure they are not doing business with entities linked to alleged human rights abuses against Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang province.
Separately, Congress passed legislation seeking to punish banks that do business with Chinese officials who implement Beijing’s draconian new national security law on Hong Kong.
The positive economic data also pushed oil prices higher.
Brent crude .LCOc1 futures settled at $43.14 a barrel, rising $1.11, or 2.6%. U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude .CLc1 futures settled at $40.65 a barrel, up 83 cents, or 2.1%.
Investors still embraced the safe-haven dollar and gold, which usually rise when risk appetite declines, as an acceleration in new COVID-19 cases across the country prompted fresh restrictions.
The dollar index =USD rose 0.058%, with the euro EUR= up 0.01% to $1.1239.
The Japanese yen weakened 0.02% versus the greenback at 107.53 per dollar, while sterling GBP= last traded at $1.2468, up 0.02% on the day.
Spot gold XAU= rose 0.4% to $1,777.04 per ounce
U.S. Treasury yields ended the day lower ahead of the July 4 long weekend, with the benchmark 10-year US10YT=RR yield fell 1.1 basis points at 0.6709%.