Asian stock markets rise ahead of US jobs data

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BEIJING (AFP) – Asian stock markets rose on Friday ahead of a US job market update as the Federal Reserve considered whether further interest rate hikes were needed to cool rising inflation.

Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney advanced. US futures and oil prices rose.

Investors have been eyeing the monthly US employment figures for possible signs of weakness that could lead the Federal Reserve to decide whether to dampen interest rate hikes to cool inflation. Other data indicates that the economy is slowing, which will reduce pressure on prices to rise.

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“There will likely be a special focus on job growth resilience” after jobless claims surged, ActivTrades’ Anderson Alves said in a report.

The Shanghai Composite advanced 0.3% to 3198.11 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose less than 0.1% to 20192.36.

Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 rose 0.8% to 28,143.55 after cash earnings for June rose 2.2% from a year ago, although forecasters warned that the strength is unlikely to last. Semi-annual bonuses are paid out in June.

Seoul’s Kospi rose 0.9% to 2494.65 and Sydney’s S&P ASX 200 rose 0.4% to 7003.00.

India’s Sensex rose 0.5% to 58568.12. The Reserve Bank of India raised its benchmark interest rate by half a percentage point to 5.4% on Friday.

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Reserve Bank of India Governor Shaktikanta Das has forecast that inflation will reach 6.7% in the fiscal year ending next March, and the economy will grow at a rate of 7.2% annually.

New Zealand fell while Southeast Asian markets rose.

Jakarta advanced 0.2% after Indonesia’s economy grew 5.4% stronger than expected from a year earlier in the last quarter.

Investors fear that the Federal Reserve and other central banks in Europe and Asia will raise interest rates to tame multi-decade inflation, which could derail economic growth.

The Fed has raised its benchmark interest rate twice by 0.75 percentage points this year, three times its usual margin and the largest increase since the early 1990s.

Federal Reserve officials have tried to allay fears that the United States may enter a recession by pointing to a strong labor market as evidence that the economy can bear higher borrowing costs.

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The Labor Department reported Thursday that the number of Americans who filed for unemployment benefits last week rose by a modest 6,000 from the previous week to 260,000. First-time orders generally reflect layoffs, but forecasters still see the labor market as one of the strongest parts of the economy.

Data earlier this week indicated that the number of job vacancies in the United States that were announced was declining, but it was still close to record levels.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 closed 0.1% lower on Thursday as investors digested corporate earnings reports and waited for jobs data.

The S&P 500 fell to 4,151.94 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.3% to 3,2726.82. The Nasdaq Composite Index rose 0.4% to 12,720.58.

In energy markets, benchmark US crude rose 42 cents to $88.96 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell by $2.12 in the previous session to $88.54. Brent crude, the price basis for international trading, rose 27 cents to $94.39 a barrel. It fell $2.66 in the previous session to $94.12.

The dollar rose to 133.45 yen from 132.91 yen on Thursday. The euro fell to $1.0230 from $1.0249.

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