Asian stocks near one-year high; oil above US$45

An investor reacts as he talks on his phone in front of a board displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney, Australia on July 12.
An investor reacts as he talks on his phone in front of a board displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange in Sydney, Australia on July 12.PHOTO: REUTERS

WELLINGTON/SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Asian stocks held near a one-year high and the US dollar maintained losses from the last session on Tuesday (Sept 6) as speculation lingered that the American jobs market isn't quite strong enough to warrant a US interest-rate increase this month.

The MSCI Asia-Pacific Index rose less than 0.1 per cent as of 9.20am Tokyo time, after climbing 1.3 per cent in the last session. The Topix was up 0.2 per cent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.3 per cent. Benchmarks in New Zealand and South Korea were little changed.

US crude traded above US$45 a barrel, having pared gains in the last session after the Saudi Arabian Energy Minister said there was no need to freeze production just yet.

Investors in the US return from a holiday on Tuesday to a lacklustre stock market that is struggling to find catalysts. Data on payrolls last week didn't provide a clear direction for traders, who are trying to determine the likely path of interest-rate increases in the world's biggest economy. The probability of the Federal Reserve opting for a September hike fell by 10 percentage points last week to 32 per cent, futures prices indicate.

As the Fed ponders tightening policy, central banks elsewhere are weighing further easing, with Australia, Canada and the European Central Bank meeting this week.

"Monetary policy is going to remain easy around the world and that will continue to be supportive of risk assets," said James Woods, a strategist at Rivkin Securities in Sydney. "The non-farm payrolls last week indicate there's no rush for the Fed to raise rates. The Australian central bank will probably adopt a wait-and-see attitude before lowering rates further."

Futures on the S&P 500 Index were little changed, as were contracts tracking stocks in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

US employers added 151,000 workers to non-farm payrolls last month, below the 180,000 that was projected by economists. The increase for July was revised up, however, to 275,000 from 255,000.

"The jobs report probably reduces the probability of a Fed hike in September, but it wasn't so weak that it detracts from the whole concept of an underlying economic recovery," said Daniel Murray, head of research at EFG Asset Management in London. "That's a completely reasonable backdrop for global equities."

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index, a gauge of the greenback versus 10 major peers, was little changed early Tuesday after slipping 0.2 per cent last session. The yen was steady at 103.48 per dollar following a 0.5 per cent advance in the last session.

The Aussie added 0.3 per cent to trade at 76.01 US cents. The Reserve Bank of Australia Australia's central bank is forecast to keep the benchmark interest rate unchanged at a record-low 1.5 per cent in Governor Glenn Stevens's final meeting, according to all of the economists in a Bloomberg survey.

Sterling hovered around its strongest level in almost two months versus the dollar, after rising as much as 0.6 per cent on Monday. IHS Markit's Purchasing Managers Index for UK services surged to 52.9 from a seven-year low of 47.4 in July, the biggest monthly gain since the survey began two decades ago.