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Monday, 5 September 2016

Asia shares rally as US job report seen dimming chance of Sept hike



Asian shares rose on Monday after a weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report prompted investors to trim expectations that the Federal Reserve would hike interest rates as early as this month.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan extended early gains and was up 1.4 percent by midday.

Japan's Nikkei stock index surged 1.1 percent to three-month highs, even as the dollar slipped against the yen despite Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda's signal that the BOJ stands ready to ease monetary policy further.

U.S. stock futures suggested a slightly firmer open on Wall Street later in the day, edging up 0.2 percent.

Friday's U.S. jobs report showed nonfarm payrolls rose by 151,000 jobs in August after an upwardly revised 275,000 increase in July. Economists polled by Reuters had expected a rise of 180,000.

"What matters is not whether the markets think that was a strong jobs number, but whether Fed policymakers do," said Mitsuo Imaizumi, chief currency strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo, who noted that Fed Vice Chairman Stanley Fischer said late last month that the U.S. job market was close to full strength.

Richmond Federal Reserve Bank President Jeffrey Lacker said on Friday that the U.S. economy appears strong enough to warrant significantly higher interest rates.

U.S. Fed Funds futures prices indicated investors were pricing in around a 20 percent chance of a September hike, and more than a 60 percent chance by the end of year.

BNY Mellon senior global markets strategist Marvin Loh expects the Fed to hold off on any rate hikes until December, when they can factor in three additional jobs reports as well as the U.S. third-quarter growth report.

"We will add that we have been fooled by the FOMC on September moves in prior years and vow not to fall into that same trap again," Loh wrote.

Markets were also keeping watch on the two-day summit of leaders from G20 nations, in Hangzhou, China.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said at the open of the summit on Sunday that global economy is being threatened by rising protectionism and risks from highly leveraged financial markets.

The dollar fell 0.3 percent to 103.66 yen, giving back some of its gains after rising as high as 104.32 on Friday, its highest since July 29.

The BOJ's Kuroda told a seminar on Monday that the central bank's comprehensive review of its policies later this month won't lead to a withdrawal of easing.

He shrugged off growing market concerns that the bank is reaching its limits and stressed that the BOJ had room to deepen negative rates even as he acknowledged that policy had its own risks.

"There is no free lunch for any policy. That said, we should not hesitate to go ahead with (additional easing) as long as it is necessary for Japan's economy as a whole," Kuroda said.


The euro rose 0.1 percent to $1.1164 ahead of Thursday's European Central Bank interest rate decision.

Most economists expect the central bank to hold policy steady, though some believe the ECB could extend its asset buying program.

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) will also issue a policy decision on Tuesday. All 33 economists polled by Reuters expected a steady outcome, with financial markets pricing in the smallest of chances for a cut

Crude prices inched down, paring their robust gains in the previous session amid worries over a global oil glut.

Brent crude was down 0.6 percent at $46.55 a barrel, while U.S. crude slipped 0.6 percent to $44.16.

Both had gained 3 percent in the previous session as the dollar slipped after the employment data, making oil cheaper for investors holding other currencies.

But for the week, Brent fell 6 percent, its biggest drop in five weeks, while U.S. crude fell nearly 7 percent to mark its largest decline in eight weeks.

Reference: Lisa Twaronite

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