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GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks pull ahead in cautious trade as focus shifts to U.S. payrolls

Reuters | New York | Updated: 04-10-2019 11:22 IST | Created: 04-10-2019 11:19 IST
GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia stocks pull ahead in cautious trade as focus shifts to U.S. payrolls
Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures

Asian stocks edged up on Friday, thanks to gains on Wall Street, but signs of widening cracks in the global economy curbed risk appetite as markets looked to a key U.S. job report that could determine whether the Federal Reserve cuts rates further. Investors have been caught out by a set of weak U.S. data this week, including surveys on services and manufacturing sectors, deepening fears the Sino-U.S. trade war is starting to hurt growth in the world's biggest economy.

"We'll probably see a bounce in Asian shares, but then nervousness will creep into the markets as the day progresses," said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy and chief economist at AMP Capital Investors in Sydney. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.4%. Japan's Nikkei stock index rose 0.22%, and Australian shares rose 0.54%.

The pan-region Euro Stoxx 50 futures were up 0.44%, German DAX futures 0.33% higher and FTSE futures advanced 0.69%. U.S. stock futures tacked on 0.1% on Friday, following a 0.80% increase in the S&P 500 on Wall Street overnight on hopes that future Fed rate cuts will support corporate profits.

"The bounce on Wall Street is not a definitive sign. It's actually pessimistic for stocks that two-year yields are falling this much. It shows the bond market hasn't gotten on board with this positive growth story," AMP's Oliver said. That sentiment was underscored by a frail performance for world stocks in recent weeks, hurt by political uncertainty in the United States and Hong Kong, geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, Brexit and a drumroll of weak global data.

In Asia, excluding Japan, equities were on course for the third weekly decline, their worst performance since four weeks of declines ended Aug. 16. Japan's Nikkei was down 2.3% for the week, on course for its biggest weekly decline since Aug. 2, pressured by worries about trade friction and a resurgent yen.

Hong Kong shares were down 0.4% and though they are on track for a 0.17% weekly gain, the sentiment is fragile as the territory's government mulls emergency laws to contain months of often violent protest against China's rule of the former British colony. U.S. Treasury prices fell slightly but two-year yields remained near the lowest in two years due to growing signs the United States is feeling an economic chill from its trade war with China.

The dollar traded near a one-month low versus the yen, while it was stuck near a one-week trough versus the euro as traders increased bets that the Fed will have to cut rates further to keep growth in the U.S. economy on track. Data due later on Friday are forecast to show the U.S. economy added 145,000 new jobs in September, more than an increase of 130,000 in the previous month.

However, some traders are braced for a disappointing result after the surprisingly soft data earlier this week on U.S. manufacturing, job creation, and the services sector. The two-year yield, which tracks expectations for U.S. monetary policy, rose slightly to 1.3956% in Asia but was still close to a two-year low of 1.3680%.

Traders see a 85.2% chance the Fed will cut rates by 25 basis points to 1.75%-2.00% in October, up from 39.6% on Monday, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool. The Fed has already cut rates twice this year as policymakers try to limit the damage caused by the bruising Sino-U.S. trade war.

The dollar edged down to 106.81 yen, close to a one-month low of 106.48 yen reached on Thursday. The euro was a shade higher at $1.0974, near a one-week high. For the week, the dollar was down 1.04% versus the yen and off 0.3% against the common currency.

U.S. crude rose 0.63% to $52.78 a barrel, while Brent crude rose 0.54% to $58.02 per barrel. U.S. Oil futures on Thursday touched the lowest in nearly two months as the weak U.S. economic data heightened concerns that excess supplies will push prices lower.

For the week, U.S. crude futures were on course for a 5.6% decline, which would be the worst performance since July 19. Spot gold, a safe-haven asset that investors often buy during times of heightened risk, rose 0.2% to $1,507.77 per ounce, on course for a 0.75% weekly gain.


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