Asia stocks drift af­ter sur­prisinly weak US em­ploy­ment re­port

The China Post - - WORLD BUSINESS -

Asian stocks drifted Mon­day, with many mar­kets closed for hol­i­days and Wall Street closed Fri­day, af­ter a sur­pris­ingly weak U.S. em­ploy­ment re­port.

U. S. em­ploy­ers added just 126,000 new jobs in March, the small­est gain since De­cem­ber 2013. That ended 12 straight months of gains above 200,000. Even so, the un­em­ploy­ment rate re­mained at 5.5 per­cent. For mar­kets it was mixed news. It sug­gests the Fed­eral Re­serve won’t raise in­ter­est rates midyear but also in­di­cates the econ­omy weak­ened in the first quar­ter. Eco­nomic growth has been ham­pered this year by harsh win­ter weather, slow­downs at fac­to­ries and lack­lus­ter con­struc­tion ac­tiv­ity. The gov­ern­ment also cut its pre­vi­ous es­ti­mates of job gains in Fe­bru­ary and Jan­uary by a com­bined 69,000.

“Fri­day’s big U.S. pay­rolls miss would typ­i­cally have shocked mar­kets into a big move,” an­a­lyst Ni­cholas Teo at CMC Mar­kets in Sin­ga­pore said in a com­men­tary. “With the ex­tended Easter week­end break, how­ever, traders may have had the time to di­gest this huge blow, along with their choco­late eggs. Some were even will­ing to spec­u­late that this slug­gish mo­men­tum in U.S. job cre­ation could per­suade the Fed to move on rates later.”

U.S. gov­ern­ment bond prices jumped and the dollar dipped on Fri­day fol­low­ing the em­ploy­ment re­port. The stock mar­ket was closed in ob­ser­vance of Good Fri­day. Traders saw the weaker-than-ex­pected job gains in March as a sign that the Fed­eral Re­serve might de­lay rais­ing in­ter­est rates. The rise in bond prices sent the yield on the 10-year Trea­sury down to its low­est level in two months.

Tokyo fell 0.19 per­cent, or 37.10 points, to 19,397.98 and Seoul was flat, edg­ing up 1.01 points to close at 2,046.43. In late trade Sin­ga­pore was marginally higher. Shang­hai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Taipei, Syd­ney and Welling­ton were closed.

A pick-up in the yen pushed shares in Ja­panese ex­porters down as it makes their goods more ex­pen­sive abroad.

“We should see a cor­rec­tion in Ja­panese stocks as the stronger yen pushes down ex­porters,” Shoji Hi­rakawa, chief eq­uity strate­gist at Okasan Se­cu­ri­ties Co. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News.

Gold fetched US$1,218.32 against US$1,200.50 late Fri­day. In other mar­kets: — Manila closed 0.76 per­cent, or 60.65 points, higher at 8,053.74.

Ayala Corp. was up 0.13 per­cent at 800 pe­sos, Metrobank gained 0.81 per­cent to 99.80 pe­sos and Uni­ver­sal Robina added 1.77 per­cent to 230 pe­sos.

— Mumbai rose 0.86 per­cent, or 244.32 points, to end at 28,504.46 points.

Sun Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals In­dus­tries rose 8.34 per­cent to 1,168.50 ru­pees, while Tata Steel fell 1.84 per­cent to 318.05 ru­pees.

— Jakarta ended up 0.43 per­cent, or 23.63 points, at 5,480.03.

Au­to­mo­tive com­pany As­tra In­ter­na­tional gained 1.55 per­cent to 8,200 ru­piah while con­struc­tion firm PT Pembangunan Peruma­han slipped 1.48 per­cent to 3,650 ru­piah.

— Kuala Lumpur gained 8.42 points, or 0.46 per­cent, to close at 1,842.94.

Telekom Malaysia added 2.13 per­cent to 7.67 ring­git and Te­naga Na­sional rose 0.14 per­cent to 14.32, while AMMB Hold­ings dipped 0.16 per­cent to 6.40 ring­git.

— Sin­ga­pore fell 0.02 per­cent, or 0.84 points, to 3,452.91. United Over­seas Bank rose 0.61 per­cent to SG$23.22 while Sin­ga­pore Tele­com gained 0.68 per­cent to SG$4.42.

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