Global stocks mostly rise as US unemployment hits 50-year low
European and US equities enjoyed strong gains Friday following American jobs data that eased recession fears even as investors continued to expect more Federal Reserve interest rate cuts to boost the economy.
The report said the US added 136,000 jobs in September, while the unemployment rate fell to 3.5 percent, a 50-year low. But the pace of job creation slowed and wages fell.
Analysts described the report as a mixed bag.
“The unemployment rate may have dropped to its lowest level in 50 years but the labor market is weakening and not improving,” said BK Asset Management’s Kathy Lien.
“The job market is still the strongest in decades, but there’s no question that it is in the midst of a slowdown.”
The jobs data came on the heels of weak reports on the manufacturing and services sectors that had amplified worries over the US economy.
Analysts said the employment report was strong enough to mitigate talk of a possible recession but probably not good enough to deter the Federal Reserve from cutting interest rates again as soon as this month.
“I think that there is enough uncertainty and we had enough comments from Fed governors today that suggested that they don’t want to wait until the last minute if there’s a problem,” said Maris Ogg of Tower Bridge Advisors. “We’ll probably get that cut in October.”
Futures markets are betting the Fed will cut interest rates later this month.
But Lien said the central bank’s next step was still an open question, adding “we don’t believe US policymakers share the market’s eagerness for easing and data over the next month will dictate whether the market or the Fed changes their views.”
Major US indices gained more than one percent, leaving the Dow and S&P 500 narrowly in the red for the week, while the Nasdaq eked out a gain.
Earlier, bourses in Paris, London and Frankfurt also advanced.
But stock markets in Asia finished mostly lower, with Hong Kong marking the heaviest drop, shedding 1.1 percent as the city’s government announced the face mask ban as it looks to quell the demonstrations that have rocked the economy.
There are worries that the rarely-used colonial-era emergency power could lead to further confrontations or more, stricter laws later.
– Key figures around 2040 GMT –
New York – Dow: UP 1.4 percent at 26,573.72 (close)
New York – S&P 500: UP 1.4 percent at 2,952.01 (close)
New York – Nasdaq: UP 1.4 percent at 7,982.47 (close)
London – FTSE 100: UP 1.1 percent at 7,155.38 (close)
Paris – CAC 40: UP 0.9 percent at 5,488.32 (close)
Frankfurt – DAX 30: UP 0.7 percent at 12,012.81 (close)
EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.9 percent at 3,446.71 (close)
Tokyo – Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 21,410.20 (close)
Hong Kong – Hang Seng: DOWN 1.1 percent at 25,821.03 (close)
Shanghai – Composite: Closed for a public holiday
Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0979 from $1.0965 at 2100 GMT
Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2335 from $1.2332
Dollar/yen: DOWN at 106.86 yen from 106.92 yen
Brent North Sea crude: UP 1.1 percent at $58.37 per barrel
West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.7 percent at $52.81 per barrel