Stocks drop back on mixed US jobs figures

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Associated Press

Posted on August 2, 2013 at 7:04 AM

LONDON (AP) — A mixed U.S. jobs report took the edge off global stock markets Friday as it suggested growth in the world's largest economy is not accelerating as quickly as some had hoped.

The U.S. economy added a net 162,000 jobs in July, the fewest since March and below analyst expectations for a rise of 183,000. The previous two months' gains, meanwhile, were revised down.

The hiring was nevertheless strong enough to lower the unemployment rate to a 4 ½ -year low of 7.4 percent, from 7.6 percent. Forecasts were for a more modest dip to 7.5 percent.

Paul Ashworth, analyst at Capital Economics, said that taken as whole, the report "isn't going to stop the Fed from reducing its monthly asset purchases at September's meeting."

Europe lost its early gains to trade lower, with Germany's DAX down 0.1 percent at 8,403.20 and France's CAC 40 sliding the same rate to 4,038.96. Britain's FTSE 100 fell 0.5 percent at 6,652.11 as Royal Bank of Scotland shares shed 4.2 percent on disappointing earnings.

U.S. stocks were poised to fall on the open. Dow futures lost 0.1 percent to 15,535 while the broader S&P 500 futures dropped almost 0.1 percent to 1,699.70.

The drop may in part be due to the fact that markets had risen this week on upbeat data from the U.S. So the mixed figures on Friday were a good opportunity for investors to cash in on the recent gains.

In Asia, markets ended higher. Japan's Nikkei 225 index surged 3.3 percent to 14,466.16, with export shares boosted by a weakening yen. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 22,190.97 while in mainland China, the Shanghai Composite Index rose less than 0.1 percent to 2,029.42.

South Korea's Kospi was up 0.1 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 climbed 1.1 percent.

Asian markets had been buoyed by a survey of Chinese industry showing manufacturing activity unexpectedly ticked up in July.

Corporate earnings, meanwhile, were mostly upbeat in the region.

Shares in Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. rose 4.2 percent after posting first-half profit that was up nearly a quarter over the year before. Sony Corp. rose 0.7 percent after the Japanese electronics giant returned to profit in the January-June period. Toyota reported a sharp rise in profits.

Benchmark crude for August delivery was down 66 cents to $107.23 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.86 on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3269 from $1.3226 late Thursday. The dollar fell to 99.17 Japanese yen from 99.49 yen.

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Kelvin Chan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.

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