Asia stocks, dollar get boost from firm Wall St, US jobs

Nichola Saminather, Reuters

Posted at Aug 07 2017 08:51 AM

SINGAPORE - Asian stocks advanced on Monday, taking their cue from Wall Street's strong end to the previous week, while the dollar finally pulled ahead after stronger-than-expected jobs growth in July.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan gained 0.2 percent in early trade.

Japan's Nikkei added 0.5 percent.

South Korea's KOSPI climbed 0.3 percent, while Australian shares jumped 0.8 percent.

The dollar steadied early on Monday following strong gains on Friday after data showed US non-farm payrolls rose by 209,000 jobs last month, and June's employment gain was revised higher.

Growing signs of labor market tightness offer Federal Reserve policy makers some assurance that inflation will gradually rise to the central bank's 2 percent target, and likely clear the way for a plan to start shrinking its massive bond portfolio.

The dollar was also buoyed by comments from National Economic Council director Gary Cohn that the US administration is working on a tax plan that would bring corporate profits back to the United States.

The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of 6 global peers, inched back almost 0.1 percent to 93.462. It rallied 0.76 percent on Friday, its biggest one-day gain this year.

The dollar also pulled back slightly against the euro to $1.17805 per euro, after surging 0.8 percent on Friday.

The greenback rose 0.1 percent to 110.78 yen, extending Friday's 0.6 percent gain.

"The most logical view here is the moves on Friday were clearly just a sizeable covering of USD shorts, from what was one of the biggest net short positions held against the USD for many years," Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, wrote in a note.

For the dollar rally to gain momentum, the market needs to change its interest rate pricing, and that hasn't happened yet, Weston added.

Markets are pricing in an even chance of an interest rate hike in December.

The lift in sentiment from Friday's jobs data also supported Wall Street. The Dow closed 0.3 percent higher, its eighth consecutive record high. The S&P and Nasdaq ended the session up 0.2 percent.

In commodities, oil prices retained gains as the strong jobs data bolstered hopes for growing energy demand.

US crude was little changed at $49.55 a barrel early on Monday, after rising 1.1 percent on Friday.

Global benchmark Brent was also steady holding on to Friday's 0.8 percent gain.

The stronger dollar weighed on gold, with the precious metal flat at $1,257.31, failing to make up any of Friday's 0.8 percent loss.