Asian Markets Rise, Tracking Wall Street Gains on Job Report

A man cycles past an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

Asian shares were mostly higher Monday following strong gains on Wall Street after the U.S. jobless rate hit an 18-year low, helping investors overlook unresolved trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index dipped 0.1 percent to 22,456.19 but Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.3 percent to 30,011.63. The Shanghai Composite index in mainland China jumped 1.2 percent to 3,129.28 and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 climbed 0.3 percent to 6,082.30. Taiwan’s benchmark rose and Southeast Asian indexes were mostly higher. South Korean markets were closed for a holiday.

The latest monthly jobs report showed that U.S. hiring continued at a solid clip and wages grew modestly, a sign the world’s biggest economy remains resilient despite concerns about trade conflicts with China. U.S. government figures showed that employers added 164,000 jobs in April, making it the 91st straight month of hiring growth, and the unemployment rate fell to 3.9 percent, the lowest level since December 2000.

Tensions over the U.S.-China trade persist after talks in Beijing ended Friday without any agreement. The Trump administration asked China to cut its trade deficit by $200 billion by the end of 2020, to stop providing subsidies to key industries and end some of policies related to technology transfers, a main source of tension underlying the dispute. China presented its own concerns, seeking U.S. help with protection of intellectual property and with exports of technology that in the past were deemed strategically sensitive.

Investors are watching for a raft of potentially market-moving economic data and political events, including Chinese trade figures on Tuesday, Malaysia’s national election on Wednesday and U.S. inflation figures on Thursday.

The S&P 500 index climbed 1.3 percent to close at 2,663.42 on Friday. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.4 percent to 24,262.51. The Nasdaq composite jumped 1.7 percent to 7,209.62.

Oil futures advanced to their highest since November 2014. Benchmark U.S. crude rose 73 cents to $70.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 1.9 percent to settle at $69.72 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 80 cents to $75.67 per barrel in London.

The dollar weakened to 109.23 yen from 109.73 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1945 from $1.1960.

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