Equities rebound as jobs data quash rate hike fears

·3-min read
The worse-than-expected jobs figures may reignite the debate in the US that exceptional unemployment benefits need to be cut

Equity markets moved higher while the dollar fell on Friday after tepid job US growth numbers assuaged fears of a rapid reduction in stimulus measures and a hike in interest rates.

Traders were also keeping tabs on China-US relations after President Joe Biden almost doubled the number of firms included on an investment blacklist, the latest move to show he has no intention of easing pressure on Beijing.

Attention was additionally focused on the start of a Group of Seven finance ministers meeting, with Europeans optimistic the world's wealthiest countries will support US-backed plans for a minimum global level of corporate tax.

The US economy added 559,000 jobs in May, the second month in a row that the figures came in well below expectations.

Figures released Thursday showed a gain of nearly one million jobs on private US payrolls. Plus new unemployment benefits requests fell below 400,000 for the first time since the pandemic began and a gauge of the crucial US services sector expanded for the 12th straight month and hit a record high.

That sparked worries that the roaring return of the US economy would push the Federal Reserve to "taper" stimulus measures and raise interest rates sooner than markets have been expecting.

But Friday's non-farm payrolls data from the Labor Department is looked at as the gold standard by the market, and equities in the US and Europe bounced higher after the numbers were released, while the dollar slumped.

"The key takeaway from the report is that it shows there is still ample room for improvement, which is apt to to register in the Fed's mind as a basis for sticking with its patient-minded policy approach," said Briefing.com analyst Patrick O'Hare.

The highly accommodative monetary policies of the Fed and other central banks have been a key driver of the blockbuster rally in world equities from their April 2020 troughs.

But there have been growing concerns on trading floors that too strong a rebound in the economy will set off a boom in inflation, forcing the Fed to taper its vast bond-buying programme or even lift interest rates to prevent overheating.

CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson said the jobs figure was "helping to support a view, that for all of the recent talk of a possible central bank retreat of support measures, that any such action was likely to be later rather than sooner."

- Biden's blacklist -

Elsewhere, investors were wary after Biden added to a list of Chinese firms that Americans are banned from investing in, increasing it to 59 from predecessor Donald Trump's 31.

The sanctions target companies involved in Chinese surveillance technology used to "facilitate repression or serious human rights abuses", which "undermine the security or democratic values of the United States and our allies", the White House said.

- Key figures around 1530 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.3 percent at 34,689.82 points

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.3 percent at 4,090.09

London - FTSE 100: UP less than 0.1 percent at 7,069.04 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.4 percent at 15,692.90 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 6,515.66 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.4 percent at 28,941.52 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: DOWN 0.2 percent at 28,918.10 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.2 percent at 3,591.84 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.2169 from $1.2129 at 2130 GMT

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.4166 from $1.4104

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.89 pence from 85.96 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.45 yen from 110.30 yen

Brent North Sea crude: UP 0.3 percent at $71.50 per barrel

West Texas Intermediate: UP 0.6 percent at $69.21 per barrel

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