Friday, March 31

Asia shares slip as US jobs stunner hammers bonds

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SYDNEY — Asian share markets mostly eased on Monday after stunningly strong US jobs data soothed concerns about the global economy but also added to the risk of an aggressive tightening by the Federal Reserve.

Geopolitics also remained a worry as the White House warned Russia could invade Ukraine any day and French President Emmanuel Macron prepared for a trip to Moscow.

The cautious mood saw MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dip 0.3%. Japan’s Nikkei fell 0.8% and South Korea 0.4%.


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China returned from the Lunar New Year break with jumps in equities and commodities, with the blue-chip CSI300 and Shanghai Composite both up 1.6% and 2% respectively and metals and iron ore rallying in Shanghai.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, which returned from the break on Friday, fell 0.4%.

S&P 500 futures and Nasdaq futures both steadied, after last week’s market turmoil saw Inc gain almost $200 billion while Facebook-owner Meta Platforms Inc lost just as much. European futures and FTSE futures each rose roughly 0.5%.

BofA analyst Savita Subramanian noted company guidance for 2022 had weakened significantly with most stocks falling following earnings reports.

“Commentaries suggested worsening labor shortages and supply chain issues, with a bigger headwind expected in Q1 than in Q4,” Subramanian said in a note. With wages being the biggest cost component for companies, margin pressure was set to continue.


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The January payrolls report showed annual growth in average hourly earnings climbed to 5.7%, from 4.9%, while payrolls for prior months were revised up by 709,000 to radically change the trend in hiring.

“The report not only indicated that payrolls were way more than anyone could have imagined, but there was exceptional strength in earnings which has to add growing concern among Fed officials about upward pressure on inflation,” said Kevin Cummins, chief US economist at NatWest Markets .

Consumer price figures for January are due on Thursday and could well show core inflation accelerating to the fastest pace since 1982 at 5.9%.

As a result, markets moved to price in a one-in-three chance the Fed might hike by a full 50 basis points in March and the real prospect of rates reaching 1.5% by year end.


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That sent two-year yields up 15 basis points for the week, the biggest rise since late 2019 and they touched a nearly two-year high of 1.331% in Asia on Monday.

In currency markets, the euro pulled back slightly from highs made last week in the glow of a newly hawkish European Central Bank as markets brought forward the likely timing of a first rate rise and sent bond yields sharply higher.

Klaas Knot, the Dutch Central Bank President and a member of the ECB’s governing council, said on Sunday he expects a hike in the fourth quarter of this year.

The single currency was last down about 0.2% at $1.1430 , having shot up 2.7% last week in its best performance since early 2020. Technically, a break of resistance around $1.1482 would open the way to $1.1600 and higher.


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The dollar fared better on the Japanese yen as the market still sees little chance the Bank of Japan will tighten this year. It was steady at 115.30 yen, while the euro was at 132.82 yen having climbed 2.7% last week.

The wild swing in the euro left the US dollar index to recuperate at 95.569, after shedding 1.8% last week.

Gold was a shade firmer at $1,810 an ounce, but has been struggling in the face of higher bond yields.

Oil prices were up near seven-year highs amid concerns about supply given by frigid US weather and ongoing political turmoil among major world producers.

Brent added another 32 cents to $92.97 a barrel, while US crude eased 23 cents to $92.09.

(Additional reporting by Tom Westbrook. Editing by Sam Holmes and Lincoln Feast.)



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