Asian stocks mixed after US jobs data

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Markets in Japan and Hong Kong rose Monday on strong U.S. jobs data but other Asian markets were lower as investors looked to the U.S. Federal Reserve for signs of when it might raise interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 rose 1.5 percent to 15,946.90 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index added 0.6 percent to 23,190.48. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.2 percent to 1,973.14 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.4 percent to 5,294.60. Markets in mainland China were closed for a holiday.

US HIRES MORE, PAYS FLAT: Government data showed employers added 248,000 jobs in September, beating market expectations. Unemployment fell to a six-year low of 5.9 percent. The Labor Department said hiring in July and August also was stronger than initially estimated. But average hourly wages fell a penny last month. Lack of wage inflation might prompt the Fed to delay raising interest rates from near zero. Many economists expect the Fed to put off a rate hike until mid-2015.

EUROPE SILENT ON STIMULUS: After a meeting of European Central Bank leaders last week, bank president Mario Draghi said Europe's recovery is "weak, fragile, and uneven." But Draghi disappointed markets by failing to put a figure on the size of a planned stimulus.

ANALYST'S TAKE: "On Friday, the U.S. once again showed that it is the best house on what seems to be a slowly deteriorating neighborhood," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG Markets. "While Europe is sinking into a stagflation hole, money managers are seeing qualities in the U.S. that stand out by a country mile right now."

WALL STREET UP: U.S. stocks closed sharply higher on Friday after job gains. The Dow rose 1.2 percent to 17,009.69. The S&P 500 index climbed 1.1 percent to 1,967.90 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq composite rose 1 percent to 4,447.62.

WEEK AHEAD: The Fed is due to release minutes on Wednesday of a meeting last month. Investors will be watching for clues about a timetable for rate hikes and discussion surrounding the decision to keep the "considerable time" phrase in its pledge to keep interest rates near zero. Markets will be particularly attentive to signs of "increased hawkishness," said Sébastien Barbé, head of Global Markets Research for Europe at Crédit Agricole.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude dipped 7 cents to $89.67. On Friday, the contract lost $1.26 to settle at $89.74 per a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange, its lowest level since April 2013. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, declined 34 cents to $91.97.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 109.62 yen from Friday's 109.80. The euro was flat at $1.252.