Asia shares climb on Friday after US jobs report

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets rallied on Friday after the United States said its economy created more than a quarter of a million jobs in June, sending Wall Street to new records and boosting the dollar against the yen.

The better-than-expected US figures helped regional shares finish on an upbeat week on a high note as investors look ahead to the release next week of key Chinese indicators.

Tokyo rose 0.53 per cent, Hong Kong climbed 0.33 per cent, Sydney added 0.69 per cent, Seoul was 0.12 per cent higher and Shanghai was flat.

On Thursday the US Labor Department said the world's number one economy added 288,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 per cent from 6.3 per cent in May.

The closely watched figures were well above expectations of 215,000 and add to the sense that a recovery is well on track. They also soothed any lingering concerns some dealers may have had after last month's downgrade of first-quarter economic growth estimates.

Wall Street topped the week off on a high, with the Dow and S&P 500 hitting a record for the third straight session. The Dow jumped 0.54 per cent to end above 17,000 for the first time, while the the S&P 500 gained 0.55 per cent. The Nasdaq surged 0.63 per cent.

US markets are closed on Friday for the July 4 public holiday.

The dollar also surged on the news, jumping to 102.20 yen in New York from 101.88 yen in Tokyo earlier in the day. On Friday in Tokyo the unit held up, sitting at 102.15 yen.

Some analysts said the data would likely revive expectations the Federal Reserve will hike interest rates sooner than later.

The Fed has said it wants to makes sure economic growth is sound and the jobs market is strong enough before it puts borrowing rates up, pointing to mid-2015 at the earliest.

The euro bought US$1.3608 and 139.08 yen early Friday in Japan, compared with US$1.3609 and 139.09 yen in US trade.

While investors are cheering the upbeat news from Washington investors will now turn their focus on the release next week of key Chinese data, including trade and inflation.

There are hopes China, the world's number two economy and a key driver of global growth, will be able to add to a recent batch of healthy figures, including Tuesday's indexes of manufacturing activity, which hit their highest levels this year.

In oil trade US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery eased five cents to US$104.01 while Brent crude rose two cents to US$111.02.

Gold fetched US$1,319.21 an ounce compared with US$1,321.07 late Thursday.

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