Most Asian stocks rise after US payrolls as Japan drives gains, STI up 0.75%

An man is reflected in a window with a board displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, on May 3, 2016.
An man is reflected in a window with a board displaying stock prices at the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) in Sydney, Australia, on May 3, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Most Asian stocks rose on Monday (May 9) as Japanese shares climbed on a weaker yen after the smallest US jobs gain in seven months fueled speculation the Federal Reserve will look to raise interest rates gradually.

About two shares advanced for each that fell on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index, which traded little changed at 127.08 as of 9:10 am in Tokyo. Japan's Topix index added 0.9 per cent.

Traders have trimmed bets on the Fed raising benchmark rates next month after nonfarm payrolls rose by 160,000 workers, below economists' estimates. Investors also assessed data showing Chinese trade slumped in dollar terms while foreign reserves rose, and gains in oil amid fires in Canada and the replacement of Saudi Arabia's oil minister.

"There is plenty of news for market participants to digest," Chris Weston, chief markets strategist in Melbourne at IG Ltd., said in an e-mail to clients. "Asia-based traders will have their chance to react to the below-par payrolls data, so one should watch the dollar intently. The market is still highly skeptical around future hikes, with the next interest-rate hike not fully priced in until June 2017."

Japan's Nikkei 225 Stock Average rose 1.2 per cent as the yen slid 0.3 per cent to 107.46 per dollar. Some 125 companies in broader Topix measure report earnings Monday, including Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Sumitomo Corp, at the start of the busiest week of earnings season. Japan's markets were closed three days last week for holidays.

Singapore's Straits Times Index rose 0.75 per cent to 2,751.16 as of 9:33 am.

South Korea's Kospi index lost 0.1 per cent while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.2 per cent. Markets in China and Hong Kong have yet to start trading.

Energy shares led gains among the regional gauge's 10 industry groups on Monday. West Texas Intermediate crude climbed as much as 2.9 per cent in early trading as fires in Canada's Alberta province spread toward oil-sands facilities, knocking out an estimated 1 million barrels of production, and after Saudi Arabia replaced Oil Minister Ali Al-Naimi with a close ally of the deputy crown prince.

Philippine markets are shut as Filipinos begin voting in a hotly contested election that's seen Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial mayor of Davao City, propelled to the front of the pack with his tough talk to combat crime and deal with traffic- clogged roads.

Futures on the S&P 500 Index rose 0.2 per cent. The US equity benchmark index rose 0.3 per cent on Friday after falling as much as 0.6 per cent. The measure posted its first back-to- back weekly drop since February.