Asian markets mixed, US futures up after Wall St hits record

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stock markets were mixed and United States (US) futures were higher yesterday after Wall Street rose to a record on optimism the spread of coronavirus vaccines might allow global business to return to normal.

Tokyo and Seoul rose while India and Thailand retreated. Markets in Europe, Greater China and Australia were closed for holidays.

“Asia is treading cautiously” despite strong US jobs data and Wall Street’s gain, said Jeffrey Halley of Oanda in a report.

On Wall Street, the future for the benchmark S&P 500 index was up 0.5 per cent and that for the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 0.3-per-cent higher.

On Thursday, the S&P 500 rose 1.2 per cent on its last trading day before the holiday, closing above 4,000 points for the first time.

A currency trader passes by screens at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: AP

In Asia yesterday, the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo rose 0.8 per cent to 30,092.74 while the Kospi in Seoul gained 0.2 per cent to 3,119.51.

India’s Sensex lost 2.5 per cent to 48,759.17. Singapore advanced while Bangkok and Jakarta declined.

Investors have been encouraged by the spread of coronavirus vaccines despite rising infection numbers in the US, Europe and other places that have prompted some governments to re-impose travel and business curbs.

Friday’s closely watched US government jobs report showed American employers added 916,000 more jobs than they cut last month. That was well ahead of forecasts of 617,500 and nearly double February’s growth.

Also Friday, the yield on the 10-year US Treasury bond, or the difference between the market price and the payout at maturity, rose to 1.72 per cent from Thursday’s 1.68 per cent.

The yield has risen sharply this year, drawing money out of stocks, on expectations revived economic activity will cause inflation to rise, reducing the value of the payout in real terms.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude lost 86 cents to USD60.59 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose USD2.29 on Thursday to USD61.45. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 93 cents to USD63.93 per barrel in London. It gained USD2.12 the previous session to USD64.86 a barrel.

The dollar advanced to JPY110.67 from Friday’s JPY110.63. The euro retreated to EUR1.1745 from EUR1.1773.