Global stocks fall after US jobs data sparks rate concern

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

BEIJING (AP) — Global stocks fell Monday after strong U.S. jobs data increased chances that the Federal Reserve will move up its timetable for raising interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: In early trading, France's CAC-40 fell 0.6 to 4,932.93 and Germany's DAX lost 0.4 percent to 11,503.87. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 0.6 percent to 6,870.26. Wall Street looked set for more losses. Dow futures were down 0.2 percent at 17,831 and S&P 500 futures were off 0.2 percent at 2,067.50. In the previous session, the Dow fell 1.5 and the S&P shed 1.4 percent. The Nasdaq lost 1.1 percent.

MORE JOBS: Strong U.S. employment growth in February was good news for workers but alarmed investors who worried a rate hike, previously not expected until as late as October, might happen as early as June. The Fed has held interest rates close to zero for more than six years to stimulate growth following the 2008 global crisis. But Friday's announcement that employers added 295,000 jobs last month, which was far above expectations of about 235,000, fueled expectations unemployment would fall further and inflation might pick up. That could prompt the Fed to try to tame price pressures by raising rates, which would make stocks a less attractive investment and slow economic growth.

THE QUOTE: "The market has been positioning itself for a (U.S. interest rate) rise in October. Friday's data suggest June or July is a real possibility," said IG market strategist Evan Lucas in a report. "The reaction from the U.S. market on Friday shows no one is really positioned for moves in the Fed funds rate. The rush for the exit will be rapid when it does shift."

ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 fell 1 percent to 18,790.55 points and Seoul's Kospi shed 1 percent to 1,992.82. Hong Kong's Hang Seng declined 0.2 percent to 24,123.05. India's Sensex lost 2 percent to 28,853.59 and Sydney, New Zealand and Southeast Asian markets also declined. The Shanghai Composite Index was the only major index to buck the regional trend, adding 1.9 percent to 3,302.41 after China's February exports were stronger than expected.

CHINESE TRADE: Exports jumped 48.3 percent in February over a year earlier, rebounding from January's 3.3 percent decline and bringing total growth so far this year to 15 percent. Imports shrank for a second month, declining 20.5 percent and bringing the total contraction this year to 20.2 percent. The trade minister said Saturday that weakness was expected in February trade but expressed confidence China can hit the government's target of 6 percent growth this year in total imports and exports.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude added 5 cents to $49.66 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract added 29 cents on Friday to close at $49.61. Brent crude, used to price international oils, lost 31 cents to $59.40 per barrel in London after gaining 48 cents on Friday to close at $59.73.

CURRENCIES: The dollar fell to 120.69 yen from Friday's 120.81. The euro rose to $1.0893 from $1.0844.