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Stock markets rise on positive US jobless data

·3-min read
The US jobs data will be closely watched for signs of when the Federal Reserve will begin tapering monetary policy (AFP/Olivier DOULIERY)

Global stocks rose on Thursday, buoyed by strong weekly US jobless claim data ahead of the country's closely-watched August employment report.

Both the S&P 500 and Nasdaq finished at fresh records following the claims data, which showed a drop in weekly unemployment claims that took the closely-watched benchmark to its lowest level since March 2020, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

Friday's Department of Labor report is expected to show the United States added 750,000 positions last month, with the unemployment rate falling to 5.2 percent.

But some analysts expressed caution.

Ian Shepherdson of Pantheon Macroeconomics said firms may be slowing hiring as they wait to see how bad the surge of the fast-spreading Delta variant of the virus will be.

"This is a new cycle low and the trend in claims is still falling, despite the surge in Covid cases across the southeastern quadrant of the country. But claims tell us nothing about the pace of hiring, which appears to be bearing the brunt of the Delta hit," he said in a note.

Analysts will scrutinize the jobs data for signs of when the Federal Reserve might begin scaling back its massive stimulus program, as its chief Jerome Powell said could happen by the year's end.

A strong report "could provide more ammunition for Fed hawks," said TD Ameritrade's JJ Kinahan in a note, while adding that the Delta variant of Covid-19 added uncertainty.

"We've seen some other data come in a little light lately," he said. "On the other hand, you can't count out the chance for more gains."

The strong showing on Wall Street revitalized a previously sluggish session in Europe, where markets had been mostly in the red earlier in the day.

But by the close of trade, share prices in London, Frankfurt and Paris were all back on a firmer footing.

Oil prices also rose, extending a volatile week as investors weigh the effect of outages in key Gulf Coast petroleum infrastructure following Hurricane Ida.

- Key figures around 2035 GMT -

New York - Dow: UP 0.4 percent at 35,443.82 (close)

New York - S&P 500: UP 0.3 percent at 4,536.95 (close)

New York - Nasdaq: UP 0.1 percent at 15,331.18 (close)

London - FTSE 100: UP 0.2 percent at 7,163.90 (close)

Frankfurt - DAX 30: UP 0.1 percent at 15,840.59 (close)

Paris - CAC 40: UP 0.1 percent at 6,763.08 (close)

EURO STOXX 50: UP 0.1 percent at 4,232.10 (close)

Tokyo - Nikkei 225: UP 0.3 percent at 28,543.51 (close)

Hong Kong - Hang Seng Index: UP 0.2 percent at 26,090.43 (close)

Shanghai - Composite: UP 0.8 percent at 3,597.04 (close)

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.1878 from $1.1839

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.3835 from $1.3770

Euro/pound: DOWN at 85.83 pence from 85.98 pence

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 109.95 from 110.01 yen

West Texas Intermediate: UP 2.0 percent at $69.99 per barrel

Brent North Sea crude: UP 2.0 percent at $73.03 per barrel

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