TOKYO, RAW – Most Asian stocks have gained, extending the rally that took global equities to a record high after a US jobs report signalled the economic recovery remained intact but did not yet warrant any immediate withdrawal of Federal Reserve stimulus.
Japanese markets, however, bucked the trend, with the Nikkei falling 0.5 per cent following a surge in COVID-19 infections in Tokyo, just weeks before the city hosts the Olympic Games.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3 per cent, led by a 1 per cent gain in Taiwan. Chinese blue chips added 0.1 per cent.
Trading is set to be thinner than usual with US markets closed for the extended July 4 weekend, meaning “some of those upside moves might be capped and price action might be choppy”, according to Kyle Rodda, a market analyst at IG in Melbourne.
“But given Friday’s non-farm payrolls numbers, things are still really, really optimistic, and you’ll start to see that come through again as the week unfolds,” Rodda said.
“Conditions are right for equities to continue to push higher right across the globe.”
The MSCI All Country World index closed at a record 724.66 last week, and edged 0.1 per cent higher on Monday.
S&P 500 futures pointed to a 0.1 per cent dip for Tuesday’s open, after the index closed 0.8 per cent higher at a record 4,352.34 on Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.4 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite added 0.8 per cent to hit a record.
US non-farm payrolls increased by a bigger-than-expected 850,000 jobs last month.
But the unemployment rate unexpectedly ticked up to 5.9 per cent from 5.8 per cent, while the closely watched average hourly earnings, a gauge of wage inflation, rose 0.3 per cent last month, lower than the consensus forecast for a 0.4 per cent increase.
“The goldilocks print suggests there is no need to accelerate the tapering timeline or the implied rate hike profile,” Tapas Strickland, an analyst at National Australia Bank, wrote in a client note.
“Overall the level of payrolls is still 6.8 million below pre-pandemic February 2020 levels and is still below the level of substantial progress needed by the Fed. As such there is nothing in this report for the Fed to become hawkish about.”
Eyes will be trained on the minutes of the Federal Open Markets Committee meeting from last month, when policymakers surprised markets by signalling two rate hikes by the end of 2023.
Commentary by Fed officials since then has been more balanced, particularly from chairman Jerome Powell, and investors will parse Wednesday’s release for further clues on the timing of policy tightening.
US bond markets were closed for the holiday, after the benchmark 10-year US Treasury yield sank to 1.4306 per cent.
The US dollar was mostly flat on Monday after dropping from a three-month high at the end of last week, pressured by the weaker details of the US non-farm payrolls report.
The greenback was little changed at 111.055 yen and $US1.18615 per euro.
Gold edged up 0.1 per cent to $US1789.46 an ounce.
Crude oil slipped as OPEC+ talks dragged on. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister pushed back on Sunday against opposition by fellow Gulf producer the United Arab Emirates to a proposed OPEC+ deal and called for “compromise and rationality” to secure agreement when the group reconvenes on Monday.
Brent crude fell 29 cents to $US75.88 a barrel, and US crude lost 24 cents to $US74.92 a barrel.