February 4, 2019
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asia stocks were barely moved on Monday, staying near a four-month high after Wall Street’s tepid pre-weekend performance, while the dollar was supported against the yen following strong U.S. jobs and manufacturing data.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was basically unchanged, capped below the four-month peak scaled on Friday.
Japan’s Nikkei added 0.4 percent.
China’s financial markets are closed all week for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Wall Street ended mixed on Friday, as optimism from a surge in January U.S. job growth was offset by a weaker-than-expected outlook from Amazon.com Inc that battered retail stocks.
The Dow nudged up 0.26 percent while the Nasdaq shed 0.25 percent. [.N]
“Key points for the markets this week will be how the remaining U.S. corporate earnings releases turn out, and whether they are in line with recent upbeat data,” said Junichi Ishikawa, senior FX strategist at IG Securities in Tokyo.
“While corporate earnings and fundamentals remain key, political developments, notably the U.S.-China trade situation, remain potential risk factors,” he said.
A U.S. Labor Department report on Friday showed nonfarm payrolls jumped by a stronger-than-forecast 304,000 jobs last month, the largest gain since February 2018.
That report, along with better-than-expected ISM manufacturing activity numbers for January, pointed to underlying strength in the world’s biggest economy.
The robust economic data triggered a sharp rebound in U.S. Treasury yields, in turn lifting the dollar.
On Monday, the U.S. currency was a shade higher at 109.55 yen after advancing 0.6 percent on Friday.
The euro was little changed at $1.1455 after getting pulled back from a high of $1.1488 on Friday.
The Australian dollar was steady at $0.7250 after slipping 0.4 percent the previous session.
The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield was at 2.691 percent after climbing nearly 6 basis points on Friday to pull away from a four-week low of 2.619 percent earlier last week.
U.S. crude oil futures inched down 0.04 percent to $55.24 per barrel after surging 2.7 percent on Friday.
Oil prices had rallied on the upbeat U.S. jobs report, signs that Washington’s sanctions on Venezuelan exports have helped tighten supply and data showing U.S. drillers cut the number of oil rigs. [O/R]
(This version of the story corrects third paragraph to remove reference to South Korean market, which is closed until Thursday, Feb 7)
(Editing by Richard Borsuk)