Asian stocks follow Wall St up after strong US jobs report

BEIJING (AP) — Asian stocks followed Wall Street higher on Monday after strong U.S. hiring data, coupled with weak wage gains, suggested a possible recession may be further away, but also that inflationary pressures are easing.

Tokyo’s benchmark index gained almost 2%. Shanghai, Hong Kong and Seoul also advanced.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index jumped 1.5% on Friday, putting it on the verge of entering what traders are calling a “bull market” after rising nearly 20% in seven months.

Government data on Friday showed employers hired more people than expected in May, but wage gains are slowing. This suggests the economy is strong, but upward pressure on inflation may be easing, reducing the need for the Federal Reserve to cool corporate activity with more rate hikes.

“Markets look set to build on last week’s bullish momentum as bubbling risk appetite finds a comfortable pillow in hopes of a soft landing in the US,” said SPI’s Stephen Innes. Asset Management in a report.

The Nikkei 225 in Tokyo advanced 1.9% to 32,124.17 and the Shanghai Composite Index added less than 0.1% to 3,232.80. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong gained 0.7% to 19,078.22.

The Kospi in Seoul was up 0.6% at 2,616.25 and the S&P ASX 200 in Sydney jumped 1.2% at 7,232.10.

Singapore and Jakarta won. Markets in New Zealand and Thailand were closed for the holidays.

On Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose to 4,282.37. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rebounded 2.1% to 33,762.76 and the Nasdaq composite gained 1.1% to 13,240.77.

Industrial companies, energy producers and banks advanced. Exxon Mobil rose 2.3% as crude oil prices rose on hopes that a resilient economy would burn more fuel.

The Labor Department’s monthly jobs report showed a slowdown in wage increases even as hiring strengthened.

While that may discourage workers trying to keep up with rising prices, investors believe slower wage gains will mean less upward pressure on inflation.

Unemployment also rose more than expected last month, rising to 3.7% from a five-decade low. This implies a bit more slack in the labor market and appears to conflict with hiring data, which comes from a separate survey.

Following the report, traders largely expected the Fed to keep interest rates steady at its next meeting in two weeks. If so, it would be the first time it hasn’t raised rates in over a year.

Rising rates also hurt many small and medium-sized banks, in part because customers withdrew deposits in search of higher interest in money market funds.

Several high-profile bank failures since March have rattled the market, leading Wall Street to search for other possible weak links. Many under the most scrutiny rallied in the aftermath of the jobs report. PacWest Bancorp jumped 14.1%, for example, to cut its loss for the year to 66.6%.

But Fed officials also warned recently that a pause in rate hikes in June would not necessarily mean an end to hikes.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude rose 94 cents to $72.68 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained $1.64 on Friday at $71.74. Brent crude, the price basis for international oil trade, advanced 85 cents to $76.98 a barrel in London. It added $1.85 the previous session at $76.13.

The dollar rose to 140.07 yen from 139.94 yen on Friday. The euro fell to $1.0701 from $1.0712.

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