Asian markets mostly up after Wall St record, focus on US jobs

HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets mostly rose yesterday, tracking a record performance on Wall Street, as investors turned their focus to the upcoming release of United States (US) jobs data while hoping for a big Federal Reserve interest rate cut.

US traders went on a pre-July 4 spending spree on Wednesday to push all three main indexes to their all-time highs as a string of weak economic indicators reinforced the case for the Fed to reduce borrowing costs.

With the relief-rally from US President Donald Trump and Xi Jinping’s trade war ceasefire running its course, dealers were turning their attention to the global outlook and pinning their hopes on central bank support.

The release today of US non-farm payroll figures is key, analysts say, with a weak reading likely to reinforce expectations of a rate cut.

Talk of a reduction and concerns about the economy have seen the yield on safe haven 10-year Treasuries fall below two per cent.

“A lot of US economic data is wavering, as most key indicators are falling below trend, but the recent standouts have been labour and wage data,” said OANDA Senior Market Analyst Edward Moya.

“If the pillars of the economy begin to show some signs of weakness, this will disrupt the US consumer and support the calls for the Fed to cut in July and signal an additional one is on the way.”

A currency trader watches monitors at the foreign exchange dealing room of the KEB Hana Bank headquarters in Seoul, South Korea. – AP

Tokyo climbed 0.3 per cent and Sydney jumped 0.5 per cent, while Singapore was up 0.3 per cent.

Seoul rose 0.6 per cent, Taipei added 0.3 per cent, and Mumbai put on 0.2 per cent, with gains also in Jakarta, though Hong Kong, Shanghai, Manila and Bangkok retreated.

In early European trade, London was barely moved, Paris gained 0.1 per cent and Frankfurt added 0.2 per cent.

Stephen Innes, at Vanguard Markets, said the fall in yields across several asset classes “has increased investor appetite for high dividend-yielding equity risk”.

Investors were “hoping that this next wave central bank monetary infusion will provide a foundation to ensure the global cyclical bottom is set while offering a welcoming climate to extend this bullish trading cycle,” he said.

The increasing likelihood of a Fed cut weighed on the dollar, with riskier currencies such as the South Korean won, Australian dollar and Indonesian rupiah all strengthening.

The Chinese yuan was also slightly higher.

However, Trump hit out at China on Wednesday in a Twitter rant, accusing it and Europe of artificially keeping the yuan and euro weak to gain an advantage over the US.

He said they were playing a “big currency manipulation game” and “pumping money into their system”, adding that the US should step up to the fight by matching them.

Oil prices fell more than one per cent, giving up Tuesday’s gains, with traders disappointed by the size of the drop in US stockpiles of the commodity, while worries over the global economic outlook weigh on demand expectations.