NATIONAL NEWS

Stock market today: Asian shares surge after Wall St gains on signs the US jobs market is cooling

Sep 3, 2023, 8:38 PM

People walk in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a...

People walk in the rain in front of an electronic stock board showing Japan's Nikkei 225 index at a securities firm Monday, Sept. 4, 2023, in Tokyo. Stocks were higher in Asia on Monday after Wall Street was boosted by a report that signaled the US jobs market, while still healthy, is showing some signs of cooling. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

Stocks were higher in Asia on Monday after Wall Street was boosted by a report that signaled the US jobs market, while still healthy, is showing some signs of cooling.

That supported investors’ hopes that the Federal Reserve may soon ease up on its campaign to slow the U.S. economy by raising interest rates.

“It appears that global markets are primed to be smitten with the idea of a ‘Nirvana’ Fed tightening outcome, entailing the ‘immaculate dis-inflation’ that does not cause employment pain,” Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank said in a commentary.

Fresh stimulus from China’s financial regulators for the beleaguered property sector also supported buying. They have cut down-payment requirements for first and second-time home buyers and lowered rates on existing mortgages, noted Yeap Jun Rong of IG.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index jumped 2.4% to 18,828.91 while the Shanghai Composite index added 1% to 3,166.62. Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 was up 0.6% at 32,899.99.

In Seoul, the Kospi edged 0.2% higher, to 2,569.52. Sydney’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 7,312.60.

Shares also rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

U.S. markets will be closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday.

Friday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 finished 0.2% to 4,515.77. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3% to 34,837.71. The Nasdaq composite closed less than 0.1% lower, at 14,031.81, breaking a five-day winning streak.

The Labor Department reported Friday that employers added a solid 187,000 jobs in August. The job growth marked an increase from July’s revised gain of 157,000, but still pointed to moderating hiring compared with earlier this year. From June through August, the economy added 449,000 jobs, the lowest three-month total in three years.

The report also showed the unemployment rate rose to 3.8% from 3.5%. That’s the highest level since February 2022, though still low by historical standards.

Strong hiring and consumer spending have helped stave off a recession that analysts expected at some point in 2023. But they also make the central bank’s task of taming inflation more difficult by fueling wage and price increases.

Market fears that the Fed might have to keep interest rates higher for longer — following reports showing the U.S. economy remains remarkably resilient — led the market to pull back in August.

But recent economic snapshots have bolstered the view on Wall Street that the Fed may hold rates steady at its next policy meeting in September.

The U.S. central bank has raised its main interest rate aggressively since 2022 to the highest level since 2001. The goal has been to rein inflation back to the Fed’s target of 2%. The Fed has maintained that it is ready to keep raising interest rates if it has to, but will base its next moves on the latest economic data.

Bond yields were mostly rose Friday. The yield on the 2-year Treasury, which tracks expectations for the Fed, got as high as 4.91% at one point, but fell to 4.88% by late afternoon. It was at 4.87% late Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, rose to 4.17% from 4.11%.

Banks and financial services stocks accounted for a big share of the gains among S&P 500 companies. Charles Schwab rose 2.3% and U.S. Bancorp added 1.5%.

Rising oil prices helped push energy stocks higher. Exxon Mobil rose 2.1% and Chevron was up 2%.

The price of U.S. crude oil climbed 2.3% on Friday. Early Monday, it added 11 cents to $85.65 a barrel.

Brent crude oil was up 2 cents to $88.57 a barrel.

In currency trading, the dollar fell to 146.12 Japanese yen from 146.22 yen. The euro rose to $1.0787 from $1.0779.

National News

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Stock market today: Asian shares surge after Wall St gains on signs the US jobs market is cooling