Asia Markets

Asian stocks rise after US markets cheer jobs data

Key Points
  • Asian markets rose, tracking gains seen stateside on the release of jobs data.
  • The U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs last month, above forecasts, while wage growth came in below expectations.
  • Steel producers traded higher, recovering from losses seen in the last session.

Asian stocks got off to a strong start to the week, with regional markets closing higher on Monday. Those gains came after stock indexes stateside surged in the last session on expectation-topping U.S. jobs data.

In Tokyo, the closed up 1.65 percent, or 354.83 points, to close at 21,824.03 after recording a more than 400-point gain earlier in the session. The broader Topix rose 1.51 percent, with gains seen across all of the index's 33 sectors despite developments related to a possible cronyism scandal in the country.

Over in Seoul, the benchmark Kospi index advanced 1 percent to end at 2,484.12, its highest levels in around five weeks as manufacturing and tech names notched gains. Samsung Electronics, however, closed flat.

Hong Kong's advanced 1.84 percent, or 571.77 points, by 3:22 p.m. HK/SIN, as energy and tech names led broad-based gains. Index heavyweight Tencent was up 2.42 percent ahead of the market close.

Mainland markets also traded higher, but saw slighter gains: The edged up by 0.58 percent to close at 3,326.33 and the Shenzhen composite finished 1.24 percent higher at 1,908.84. Small caps outperformed, with the ChiNext start-up board up 1.72 percent in comparison with the blue chip CSI 300's 0.46 percent gain.

Down Under, the S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.55 percent to end at 5,996.10. Gains were led by the materials and energy sub-indexes, which rose 1.58 percent and 1.15 percent respectively, while gold producers slid 1.88 percent.

Steel producers in Asia were in focus after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted on Friday that he was working with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to ensure that Australia would not face U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs. Shares of Bluescope Steel rose 3.46 percent.

Meanwhile, Japanese and South Korean steel producers recovered after sliding in the last session. The Topix Iron and Steel index was up 2.03 percent, with Nippon Steel and Sumitomo Metal — the country's largest steelmaker — closing higher by 2.84 percent. JFE Holdings advanced 0.91 percent.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Posco and Hyundai Steel rose 2.32 percent and 2.35 percent, respectively.

Trump had signed proclamations to impose tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on steel and aluminum imports, respectively, last week, although the door was left open for potential exemptions.

Goldilocks US jobs report

Gains in the region came off the back of the surge on Wall Street in the last session. All three major U.S. stock indexes recorded gains of around 1.7 percent on the release of robust jobs data. The Nasdaq composite, in particular, hit both intraday and closing highs on Friday.

Data released on Friday showed that the U.S. economy added 313,000 jobs last month, above a forecast of 200,000 in a Reuters poll. Wage growth, however, rose 2.6 percent on an annualized basis, coming in below expectations.

The solid job creation numbers and lower-than-expected wage growth eased worries about the Federal Reserve's rate hike trajectory.

"Fears of four rate hikes from the Fed this year have receded while risk sentiment is back firmly in the ascendancy — for now at least," Ray Attrill, head of FX strategy at National Australia Bank, wrote in a morning note.

In currencies, the dollar index, which tracks the U.S. currency against a basket of rivals, traded at 90.034 at 3:15 p.m. HK/SIN.

Against the safe-haven yen, the dollar was a touch softer at 106.63, having gained last week on geopolitical developments concerning U.S.-North Korea ties. The Japanese currency also came likely came under pressure after comments from Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda on Friday were seen as dovish by markets.

The Australian dollar last traded at $0.7870.

On the commodities front, oil prices gave up some gains after bouncing in the last session from recent declines. U.S. West Texas Intermediate slipped 0.23 percent to trade at $61.90 per barrel after settling more than 3 percent higher on Friday. Brent crude futures shed 0.15 percent to trade at $65.39.

In individual stocks, Newcrest Mining fell 4.59 percent after the company said in an update that its fiscal 2018 guidance would be "adversely" impacted after identifying a breakthrough of tailings material at its Cadia mine.

Elsewhere, shares of Prada listed in Hong Kong bounced 14.2 percent by 3:28 p.m. HK/SIN after the luxury retailer said it expected to return to growth this year.

Meanwhile, Singapore-listed Noble Group surged 27.07 percent by 3:17 p.m. HK/SIN. The company said in a release that it had not paid the coupon due Mar. 9, 2018, with respect to $750 million notes due on Mar. 9, 2022.