Stocks gain after weak US job figures

A stronger jobs reading than expected gave stocks a boost

Global stock markets posted modest gains on Friday while US jobs data pointed to a possible soft patch for the world's top economy, dealers said.

Eagerly awaited job creation numbers missed analysts' forecasts but "fit into the current market narrative" that the US Federal Reserve will cut interest rates this month, Markets.com analyst Neil Wilson said.

Interest rate cuts often boost share prices.

Asian indices had risen earlier in the day on news that the United States and China are to resume high-level trade talks in October.

On Wall Street, the benchmark Dow added 0.3 percent, leaving it up 1.5 percent for the week.

In Washington, the Labor Department said employers added 130,000 net new positions in August, far fewer than analyst forecasts for 171,000, while the jobless rate held steady at 3.7 percent and wages rose.

The headline figure included 25,000 temporary jobs related to the upcoming 2020 population census, which meant hiring by private employers was even weaker.

Data for the two previous months were revised lower as well. The numbers suggest US economic activity is slowing down, reinforcing expectations of interest rate cuts by the US Federal Reserve this year.

Speaking in Zurich, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell added to signals the Fed will cut at its September 17-18 meeting.

The central bank will "continue to act as appropriate to sustain this expansion," he said, noting "significant risks" to growth, such as trade conflicts and persistently low inflation.

- Shot in arm -

Meanwhile, after a tumultuous August, dealers got a shot in the arm this week from news that Beijing and Washington plan to resume high-level trade talks next month.

China's commerce ministry said Vice Premier Liu He, Beijing's point man on trade, agreed to October talks in a call with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Thursday.

This week also saw China flag plans for fresh economy-boosting measures.

"In recent months, there has been a lot of tough talk from both sides but the prospect of the two sides sitting down, and holding trade talks has lifted sentiment," said David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

"The trade spat has been going on for well over a year, and it is unlikely to be wrapped up soon, but at the moment things are going in the right direction."

In Asia, Hong Kong finished up 0.7 percent, with dealers seeming to brush off news that Fitch had downgraded its sovereign debt rating citing the sometimes violent protests in the financial hub.

- Key figures around 2200 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 26,797.46 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.1 percent at 2,978.71 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: DOWN 0.2 percent at 8,103.07 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,282.34 points (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.5 percent at 12,191.73 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.2 percent at 5,603.99 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 3,495.19 (close)

Pound/dollar: DOWN at $1.2246 from $1.2334 at 2100 GMT

Euro/pound: UP at 90.65 pence from 89.46 pence

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1097 from $1.1035

Dollar/yen: UP at 106.95 yen from 106.94 yen

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.5 percent at 21,199.57 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 0.7 percent at 26,690.76 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.5 percent at 2,999.60 (close)

Brent North Sea crude: UP 59 cents at $61.54 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 22 cents at $56.52

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