Monday, 16 September 2019 06:26 GMT

Markets end week on bright note as dealers digest US data

(MENAFN - AFP) European stock markets edged higher Friday in a cautiously optimistic end to the week but US shares marginally dipped after data showed strong jobs growth in the United States but falling wages.

After Asia earlier notched up gains, markets looked set to end an upbeat week across global trading floors on moderate highs, with the focus turning to the start of China's annual policy gathering.

After a miserable start to the year for investors, March has so far been a ray of sunshine thanks to some positive US data and Beijing's decision to ease monetary policy, dealers said.

A pick-up in oil prices -- which in January were near 13-year lows below $30 a barrel -- has also provided some stability, with energy firms breathing a sigh of relief.

"US data continues to shine, oil continues to firm and risk appetite is coming back into all aspects of the markets," said analyst Angus Nicholson at traders IG.

However, after this week's gains, dealers are watching upcoming events nervously.

First up, data on the US jobs market which painted an overall rosy picture for February.

US employers defied a global slowdown and pumped up hiring last month, adding a much better-than-expected 242,000 new jobs, the Labor Department said Friday.

It comes after better-than-expected reports on private jobs, the manufacturing sector, construction spending and auto sales.

"The US labor market continues to power ahead," Harm Bandholz, of Unicredit said.

The figures come two weeks before the Federal Reserve holds its next policy meeting, which will be keenly watched to see if it hikes interest rates again or hints at its plans.

On Saturday, China's National People's Congress is due to begin where delegates will sign off on a new five-year economic plan.

There are growing hopes that authorities will also unveil measures to shore up the world's number two economy, which is growing at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century.

Earlier this week the government cut the amount of cash banks must keep in reserve as it looks to get them lending again.

- 'Key issue' -

Tokyo's Nikkei ended 0.3 percent higher, while Hong Kong added 1.2 percent in the afternoon.

Shanghai closed 0.5 percent higher and Sydney 0.2 percent.

In mid afternoon European trade, London firmed 0.7 percent in value, with Frankfurt and Paris very close on its heels.

The region's bourses had ticked lower Thursday as investors paused following this week's sharp global rally.

"With some relative calm returning to the markets, battle-weary investors are finally starting to emerge from the shadows," said Mike McCudden, head of derivatives at online stockbroker Interactive Investor.

"As the FTSE 100 returns back at levels not seen since the New Year and commodities stabilising, investors are taking their cue to take on some more risk."

Oil prices, for most of this year a millstone around the neck of traders, retained recent gains on hopes that key producers, including Russia and OPEC titan Saudi Arabia, would be able to agree to a deal to freeze or cut output.

- Key figures around 1545 GMT -

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.7 percent at 6,173.46 points

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.7 percent at 9,818.21 points

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.6 percent at 4,442.83 points

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.8 percent at 3,037.25 points

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 17,014.78 (close)

Shanghai - composite: UP 0.5 percent at 2,874.15 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng: UP 1.2 percent at 20,176.70 (close)

New York - Dow: DOWN 0.04 percent at 16,937.15 points

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1002 from $1.0957 on Thursday

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 113.48 yen from 113.69 yen

Markets end week on bright note as dealers digest US data

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