Asian stock markets rallied Monday and the dollar dipped after a slowdown in US job creation dimmed expectations of an interest rate rise this month but also showed the economy still improving.
The much-anticipated reading on Friday showing 151,000 new posts in August was below expectations but indicated hiring remained solid.
Before its release analysts had seen the reading as a guide to the Federal Reserve’s plans after its boss Janet Yellen — and later her vice chairman Stanley Fischer — suggested a rate rise could come this year.
While most market-watchers suggested the below-par reading would likely mean no increase this month, there are still some who think a hike could come soon.
“Markets hardly took it as a bad number, with conjecture from both sides of the fence on what it means for the Fed,” Cameron Bagrie, chief economist in Wellington at ANZ Bank New Zealand, said in a research note.
“Our take is that the (Fed policy committee) will continue to proceed cautiously, with a September rate hike a tad early.”
In afternoon trade the yen edged up against the dollar after Bank of Japan head Haruhiko Kuroda left markets guessing about his plans for monetary policy at this month’s board meeting.
The gathering is being closely watched by markets hoping the bank will unveil fresh easing measures to kickstart the economy.
But while Kuroda repeated a pledge at a business seminar to unleash fresh measures if necessary — and waved off talk of scaling back on measures already in place — he gave few firm hints about the BoJ’s plans.
“While Kuroda denied any speculation about tapering, he spurred some disappointment for those looking for clear clues on policy action this month,” Yousuke Hosokawa, head of foreign exchange sales at Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, told Bloomberg News.
The greenback fell to 103.40 yen in Tokyo, from 103.99 yen in New York.
The initially weaker yen lifted Japanese stocks more than one percent in early trade but its strengthening through the day weighed on exporters and the Nikkei ended just 0.7 percent higher.
– Hanjin sinks –
Hong Kong added 1.7 percent while Shanghai ended up 0.2 percent.
Sydney was 0.9 percent up by the close, Singapore climbed 1.3 percent and Taipei put on 1.1 percent. There were also gains in Wellington and Jakarta.
In Seoul the KOSPI rose 1.1 percent but South Korea’s biggest shipping firm Hanjin slumped 30 percent at the open as its stock began trading again after being suspended on Tuesday as it filed for bankruptcy protection.
It bounced back on bargain-buying almost immediately but still finished nearly 14 percent lower.
The company is groaning under debts estimated at more than $5 billion, the victim of a long-running downturn in the shipping industry caused by a struggling global economy.
The dollar dipped against higher-yielding currencies, with South Korea’s won climbing almost one percent, while the Indonesian rupiah and Malaysian ringgit were also sharply higher.
Oil prices edged up after early losses, but gains were limited after talks between Russia and OPEC kingpin Saudi Arabia at the weekend failed to produce any plans to address a global supply glut.
While the two spoke of working to stabilise the crude market, dealers were disappointed with a lack of detail ahead of a producers’ meeting planned for this month in Algeria.
In afternoon trade West Texas Intermediate was up one cent at $44.45 and Brent gained nine cents to $46.92.
In early European trade London rose 0.1 percent, Frankfurt gained 0.3 percent and Paris put on 0.2 percent.