Asia stocks rally as weak US jobs dampen prospects of near-term Fed hike, STI up 1.5%

A man looks at an electronic board showing the numbers (left) on the Nikkei 225 at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on Oct 1, 2015.
A man looks at an electronic board showing the numbers (left) on the Nikkei 225 at the Tokyo Stock Exchange in Tokyo on Oct 1, 2015.PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Asian stocks jumped early on Monday (Oct 5) after the prospect of an imminent interest rate hike by the Federal Reserve faded after last Friday's weaker-than-expected US employment data.

US stock indexes jumped over 1 per cent on Friday as worries about the economy after the disappointing jobs report gave way to a robust rally in energy and materials stocks.

Taking a lead from Friday's Wall Street gains, MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose to a 2-week high and was last up 1.6 per cent. Tokyo's Nikkei climbed 1.8 per cent, Australian shares rallied 1.9 per cent, Hong Kong's Hang Seng jumped 1.8 per cent and South Korea's Kospi rose 0.5 per cent.

The Straits Times Index was trading up 1.5 per cent at 2,834.94 as of 1:27 pm.

"Risk aversion weakened today as a weak U.S. employment data supported expectations that the Fed would put off the timing of rates hike," said Kim Young-jun, a stock analyst at SK Securities in Seoul.

Chinese financial markets will be closed until Oct 8 for national holidays.

Data released Friday showed US non-farm payrolls rose by 142,000 in September, considerably lower than the 203,000 jobs the markets had expected.

The lacklustre jobs report, which also showed a stall in US hourly wage growth, fuelled doubts that the economy was robust enough to withstand a rate hike before year-end.

The possibility of the Fed delaying the lift-off date for rates also meant its loose policy, which has helped shore up risk assets globally by providing cheap cash, would continue a little longer. The Dow and S&P 500 both gained more than 1 per cent Friday after initially shedding more than 1.5 per cent.

"The print will completely rule out this month for a rate rise in the US and will put the December meeting in doubt. The market reactions to the non-farm payrolls are unmistakeable - they see it as a trend and have recycled the 2012 to 2014 adage of, 'bad news is good news'," wrote Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne.

Prices of safe-haven government bonds gained on the downbeat US jobs data, sending benchmark 10-year Treasury yields to near 6-week lows on Friday. German Bund yields dropped to 4-month troughs and the 30-year Japanese government bond yield slid to its lowest since late April.

In currencies, the greenback was on the defensive, with the US dollar index nudged down 0.1 per cent to 95.714 after losing 0.4 per cent overnight.

The US dollar was little changed at 119.935 yen. The euro rose 0.3 per cent to US$1.1245 after climbing to as high as US$1.1319 on Friday, a 10-day peak.

"In the near term, the greenback may be expected to remain partially on the defensive post-NFP (non-farm payrolls)," strategists at OCBC Bank wrote. "Instead of interpreting the disappointing US NFP numbers as symptomatic of the state of the global economy, investors have instead chosen to look upon the glass as half full, attaching positivity to prospects of a delayed Fed liftoff."

Crude oil prices edged up on Monday after Russia said it was prepared to meet other producers to discuss the situation in the global oil market.

US crude rose 0.2 per cent to US$45.63 a barrel. They surged 1.8 per cent on Friday on a report of a continuing decline in the US oil rig count. Brent crude climbed 0.3 per cent to US$48.27 a barrel after it finished nearly 1 percent on Friday.

Gold stood tall after surging 2.2 per cent overnight as the weak US jobs data dented rate hike hopes and worked against the US dollar. Spot gold was nearly flat at US$1,137.66 an ounce.