Stocks were higher in Asia on Monday after Wall Street was boosted by a report that signalled the US jobs market, while still healthy, is showing some signs of cooling.
The news supported investors’ hopes that the Federal Reserve (Fed) may soon ease up on its campaign to slow the US economy by raising interest rates.
“It appears that global markets are primed to be smitten with the idea of a ‘Nirvana’ Fed tightening outcome, entailing the ‘immaculate disinflation' that does not cause employment pain,” Tan Boon Heng of Mizuho Bank said.
Fresh stimulus from China’s financial regulators for the beleaguered property sector also supported buying. They have cut down-payment requirements for first and second-time home buyers and lowered rates on existing mortgages, trading platform IG's Yeap Jun Rong noted.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng index jumped 2.4% to 18,828.91 while the Shanghai Composite index added 1% to 3,166.62. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was up 0.6% at 32,899.99.
In Seoul, the Kospi edged 0.2% higher, to 2,569.52. Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 added 0.5% to 7,312.60.
Shares also rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.
US markets will be closed on Monday for the Labor Day holiday.
On Wall Street on Friday, the S&P 500 finished 0.2% to 4,515.77. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.3% to 34,837.71. The Nasdaq composite closed less than 0.1% lower, at 14,031.81, breaking a five-day winning streak.
What's happening in the US job market?
The Labor Department reported on Friday that employers added a solid 187,000 jobs to the market in August.
The job growth marked an increase from July’s revised gain of 157,000, but still pointed to moderating hiring compared with earlier this year. From June to August, the economy added 449,000 jobs, the lowest three-month total in three years.
The report also showed that the unemployment rate rose to 3.8% from 3.5%. That's the highest level since February 2022, though still low by historical standards.
Strong hiring and consumer spending have helped stave off a recession that analysts expected at some point in 2023. But they also make the central bank's task of taming inflation more difficult by fuelling wage and price increases.
Market fears that the Fed might have to keep interest rates higher for longer -- following reports showing the US economy remains remarkably resilient -- led the market to pull back in August.
But recent economic snapshots have bolstered the view on Wall Street that the Fed may hold rates steady at its next policy meeting in September.
The US central bank has raised its main interest rate aggressively since 2022 to the highest level since 2001. The goal has been to bring inflation back to the Fed’s target of 2%. The Fed has maintained that it is ready to keep raising interest rates if it has to, but will base its next moves on the latest economic data.
Bond yields mostly rose on Friday. The yield on the two-year Treasury, which tracks expectations for the Fed, got as high as 4.91% at one point, but fell to 4.88% by the late afternoon. It was at 4.87% late on Thursday. The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which influences interest rates on mortgages and other consumer loans, rose to 4.17% from 4.11%.
Banks and financial services stocks accounted for a big share of the gains among S&P 500 companies. Charles Schwab rose 2.3 and U.S. Bancorp added 1.5%.
Rising oil prices helped push energy stocks higher. Exxon Mobil rose 2.1% and Chevron was up 2%.
The price of US crude oil climbed 2.3% on Friday. Early on Monday, it added 11 cents to $85.65 a barrel.
Brent crude oil was up 2 cents to $88.57 a barrel.
In currency trading, the dollar fell to 146.12 Japanese yen from 146.22 yen. The euro rose to $1.0787 from $1.0779.