Asian shares rise, dollar lowest in a month after job data shock

US nonfarm payrolls rose by just 38,000, well shy of the expected 164,000, quashing expectations for a near-term interest rate hike.

By: Reuters | Tokyo | Published: June 6, 2016 10:03 am
Nikkei, Japan, Yen, Japan, Japan's Nikkei, markets, Asian markets, Janet Yellen, dollar, US interest rate hike, US Federal reserve, Fed Japan’s Nikkei stock index slipped 1.1 per cent after the yen soared against the dollar after the jobs data

Asian shares rose on June 6 and the dollar dragged itself off its lowest levels in nearly a month after US nonfarm payrolls showed the slowest job growth in more than five years, quashing expectations for a near-term US interest rate hike.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.6 per cent. Wall Street ended down on Friday, though off session lows, with the S&P 500 finishing within just 1.5 per cent of its record closing high.

Japan’s Nikkei stock index slipped 1.1 per cent after the yen soared against the dollar after the jobs data.

US nonfarm payrolls rose by just 38,000 last month, the smallest increase since September 2010, and well shy of expectations for a rise of 164,000. All 105 economists polled by Reuters had forecast higher numbers.

A Reuters poll of Wall Street’s top banks taken after the jobs figures showed that all of them expect the US Federal Reserve to leave interest rates unchanged at its June 14-15 policy meeting.

“I am still on the side that the US economy is better than these data look, but it is also the case that the Fed has less confidence than I do and the market is unlikely to turn around unless there is a major piece of data that surprises on the upside,” Steven Englander, managing director and global head of G10 FX strategy at Citigroup in New York, said in a note.

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Data on the US non-manufacturing sector also disappointed, showing a drop in the May headline index to 52.9 from 55.7 in April.

Fed funds futures rates indicated that traders see only a 6 per cent chance of a Fed hike this month, down from 21 per cent as recently as Thursday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.

Later in the session on June 6, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will address an event in Philadelphia. Markets will pay close attention to her last official remarks ahead of the pre-meeting media blackout.

“If she hints at a possibility of an interest rate hike next month, if not this month, the dollar may not fall further, and the impact to the stock market can be limited,” said Takuya Takahashi, an equity strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Cleveland Federal Reserve President Loretta Mester on June 4 said that gradual interest rate increases still seemed appropriate, and that the jobs figures did not change the overall economic picture.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, added 0.2 per cent to 94.237 but remained not far above the June 3 low of 93.855, its lowest since May 12.

The dollar rebounded 0.6 per cent to 107.16 yen after touching 106.35 earlier in the session, its weakest in a month.

Japan’s vice finance minister for international affairs, Masatsugu Asakawa, said on June 6 that he was closely watching movements in foreign exchange markets.

The euro was down 0.2 per cent at $1.1340, after nosing up to $1.1375 earlier, its highest level since May 13.

Sterling tumbled 0.8 per cent to $1.4393 after sinking as low as $1.4352 earlier, wallowing around three week lows as voters in Britain gear up for the June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the European Union. Recent polls have shown more respondents favouring “Brexit.”

Crude oil prices retook some ground after plunging more than 1 per cent in the wake of the June 3 disappointing payrolls figures. Weekly industry data had also shown US drillers added rigs for only the second time this year.

US crude futures added 0.9 per cent to $49.07 per barrel, after logging a 1.1 per cent drop for the week, their first weekly decline in four weeks.

Brent crude futures added 0.7 per cent to $49.97, after they managed to mark their eighth weekly gain in nine weeks.

Spot gold edged down 0.2 per cent to $1,241.70 per ounce after earlier rising as high as $1,248.40, its loftiest peak since May 24.

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