Asian shares rally as investors await US jobs data


Asian shares snapped two days of losses on Friday, climbing as investors waited to see whether U.S. jobs data due later in the day would reinforce the need for faster U.S. interest rate hikes.

MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan rose 0.3%, boosted by a 1.2% gain in the Australian benchmark where bank stocks were to the fore, though Japan’s Nikkei gave up early gains to slip 0.66%.

Nasdaq futures rose as much as 0.5% in earlier Asian trading before giving up some gains to trade 0.25% higher, and S&P 500 e-mini stock futures advanced 0.17%.

A key market driver this week has been the rise in U.S. yields following the publishing of the Federal Reserve’s December minutes, said Kerry Craig global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management.

The minutes, published Wednesday, had shown that a tight jobs market and unrelenting inflation could force the U.S. central bank to raise rates more aggressively this year.

“Though we saw yields come off a little at the end of the session, share futures tick up, and now we’re seeing that at the Asia open too,” said Craig.

The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was last at 1.7211% having reached 1.7530% overnight, its highest since April 2021, up sharply from its 2021 close of 1.5118%.

The two-year yield, which is closely linked to inflation expectations, was at 0.8656% just off the overnight high of 0.886%.

JPMorgan’s Craig said investors were waiting for U.S. non-farm payroll data due later on Friday, and inflation data due next week, to see whether they would reinforce or undermine the case for faster rate hikes in the U.S.

The higher yields have hurt tech shares this week as investors rotated into shares of companies that do well in a higher-rate environment, like banks.

MSCI’s Asian benchmark, which gives significant weight to several large tech names, is off 1.1% this week, though tech stocks did manage to rally on Friday, notably South Korea’s Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. Samsung stock rose 1.4% after the company reported its best quarterly operating profit in four years.

Overnight, U.S. shares had slipped slightly along with the rising yields, but losses were more muted compared to the sharper falls earlier in the week.

In currency markets, higher yields meant the dollar index, which measures the greenback against six peers, has risen 0.63% this week.

On Friday, the greenback held its gains against most majors while advancing 0.1% on the yen which was at 115.94 per dollar, in sight of Tuesday’s five-year high of 116.34.

Oil prices rallied, which some analysts linked to news that Russian paratroopers had arrived to quell unrest in Kazakhstan, though production in the OPEC+ producer country remains largely unaffected so far.

Brent crude futures rose 0.6% to $ 82.48 a barrel, and U.S. crude rose 0.6% to $ 79.96.

Spot gold rose 0.15% at $ 1,791.85 an ounce after touching a two-week low of $ 1,788.25 on Thursday, as rising U.S. Treasury yields hurt demand for the non-interest bearing metal.