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Stocks mixed, dollar lower as US hiring slows

NEW YORK (AFP) – Global stocks moved indecisively and the dollar retreated on Friday as markets digested a mixed United States (US) employment report that showed moderating jobs growth but solid wage increases.

The government figures had been eagerly awaited by investors as a gauge whether the Federal Reserve will need to raise interest rates once or twice again this year in order to bring down inflation. The world’s biggest economy added 209,000 jobs last month, down from a revised figure of 306,000 in May.

The employment figure was below the median expectation of 240,000 new jobs in a survey of economists conducted by MarketWatch.

Briefing.com analyst Patrick O’Hare said what the “report won’t change is the Fed’s view that additional tightening action is likely going to be appropriate.”

While the data fits the narrative of a soft landing of the US economy from the impact of interest rate hikes, the Fed will unlikely be reassured by growth in average hourly earnings accelerating.

The jobs number “was not stellar, but it was certainly solid”, said Quincy Krosby of LPL Financial.

The Stock Exchange in Frankfurt am Main, western Germany. PHOTO: AFP

Futures markets see near certainty that the Fed will again raise interest rates later this month.

Major US indices finished modestly lower following a rollercoaster session, with the S&P 500 ending down 0.3 per cent.

But the dollar deepened losses against major rivals following the jobs data, while yields on US government bonds also fell.

“The US dollar had already been looking a little on the soft side leading into today’s jobs numbers, so the slightly softer headline number, along with the slide in yields has helped to push it even lower to the lowest levels this month,” said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

European markets closed mixed, with London finishing lower while Paris and Frankfurt rose.

Traders were also keeping tabs on China, where US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen held talks with top policy officials in efforts to smooth strained ties between the economic superpowers.

Yellen told Chinese Premier Li Qiang that the US was not seeking “winner-take-all” competition.

Li said Beijing could see the relationship recovering after a difficult period.

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