Most Asian markets rose on Monday following a strong week on Wall Street (WS) as the Chinese trading resumed after a holiday.
KEEPING SCORE: The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.2 per cent to 3,387.72 points and Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.8 per cent to 5,754.10. Markets in Japan and South Korea were closed for holidays. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng shed 0.4 per cent to 28,340.78 and Singapore also declined. Benchmarks in New Zealand, the Philippines and Indonesia advanced.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks faded Friday as telecom and energy shares sank but ended the week near record highs. Attention centered on government jobs data that were much weaker than expected. Economists cautioned not to read too much into them, because they were distorted by hurricanes that disrupted business from Texas to Florida. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index, coming off a record high, lost 0.1 per cent to 2,549.33. The Dow Jones industrial average slipped less than 0.1 per cent from its high to 22,773.67. The Nasdaq composite added 0.1 per cent to 6,590.18.
US JOBS: The U.S. economy lost 33,000 jobs last month as hiring fell due to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but the Labor Department said unemployment fell to a fresh 16-year low. It was the first monthly loss in employment in nearly seven years but economists said weakness is likely to be short-lived as the country rebounds from the storms. Previous natural disasters, such as Hurricane Katrina in 2005, also inflicted short-term job losses that were followed by intensified hiring.
ANALYST’S TAKE: “Distortion will continue in markets trying to unravel hurricane effects from jobs and inflation data, but for now the Fed is inclined to believe that risks are skewed to inflation rather than dis-inflation and that the underlying jobs recovery continues,” said Mizuho Bank in a report.
SPAIN JITTERS: European markets were on edge following protests over possible plans by Catalonia to declare independence from Spain. On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of people opposed to independence gathered in streets in the region’s capital, Barcelona, and chanted, “Catalonia is Spain!” The region’s president has pledged to push ahead for independence following an Oct. 1 referendum. “Catalan President (Carles) Puigdemont could call independence as early as Tuesday, in which case, expect trouble,” said Rob Carnell of ING in a report.
BRITAIN: Beleaguered Prime Minister Theresa May insisted she was in control after a dismal performance at her party’s annual conference and an announcement by a lawmaker that 30 colleagues want her to resign. May has struggled to unite a government that is divided over how the country should leave the European Union and what relationship it wants with the bloc after that. May’s appearance at her Conservative Party’s conference last week was marred by a heckler and a coughing fit. A former party chairman said a growing number of members want her to resign, though the figure he cited was below the 48 required to trigger a formal leadership challenge.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose 15 cents to $49.44 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.50 the previous session to close at $49.29. Brent crude, used to price international oils, gained 11 cents to $55.73 on London. It dropped 38 cents the previous day to $55.62.
CURRENCY: The dollar edged down to 112.62 yen from Friday’s 112.65 yen. The euro advanced to $1.1740 from $1.1731.