[Breaking news update at 11:00 ET]
Asian shares rose broadly on Friday morning after softer-than-expected U.S. employment data raised the possibility of the Federal Reserve turning less aggressive on its policy tightening stance in coming months.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan (.MIAPJ0000PUS) was up 0.45%, riding on a strong Wall Street close overnight. Japan’s Nikkei (.N225) was up 0.96%, and shares in Seoul (.KS11) opened up 0.77%, while Australia’s resource-heavy index was up 0.81%.
On Thursday, the ADP National Employment Report showed U.S. payrolls rising at a slower-than-expected pace last month. read more
Investors are now looking to the U.S. Labour Department’s comprehensive jobs report, due later on Friday, for confirmation of a slowdown in the employment market, which could convince the Federal Reserve to go slow on interest rate hikes for the rest of the year.
“For equities right now, anything that might be viewed as capping the Fed’s tightening could be viewed as supportive,” said ING’s Asia head of research Rob Carnell.
“So, therefore, weak macro data becomes positive for stocks.”
Economists expect about 325,000 jobs were added last month in the United States and reckon unemployment ticked lower to 3.5%.
“Any deviation from these figures that shows the labour market hanging together better than this might well be negative for equities and vice versa,” Carnell said.
Inflation is the biggest worry for the Fed and global policymakers. Fed officials have said that U.S. interest rates would likely continue to be raised aggressively unless inflation moderates.
“Front-end rate hike pressure that had built the day prior on robust economic data immediately eased off after a weaker than expected May ADP employment print, suggesting things are cooling off,” said Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management.
Markets have locked in consecutive 50-basis-point Fed hikes in June and July but the dollar has been pushed around this week by uncertainty about what happens after that.
The U.S. dollar currency index , which tracks the greenback against six major currencies, was 0.039% lower at 101.71, pausing a rally earlier in the week.
The yen has been kept under pressure by super-low interest rates in Japan, and was last steady at 129.80 per dollar, having lost 2% on the greenback this week.
U.S. Treasury yields were mixed ahead of the non-farm payrolls data.
The benchmark 10-year yield was at 2.9168% while the 2-year yield , which tends to be sensitive to U.S. rate expectations, was down at 2.6438%.
Oil prices ticked up after U.S. crude inventories fell amid high demand, even as oil-producing countries OPEC+ agreed to boost production. Brent futures were up 0.09% at $117.72 per barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude stood at $116.94. read more
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A larger-than-life politician, Ontario premier Doug Ford beat back criticism of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic to win a second term for his party on Thursday, but he faces an affordability crisis and a strained health system.
Media projected Ford’s right-leaning Progressive Conservatives to win a big majority in Canada’s most populous province shortly after the close of voting, in line with the party’s lead in opinion polls. read more
The son of a provincial politician and inheritor of a lucrative family business, Ford has made himself known for his folksy style and painted himself as someone looking out for the little guy and who pierced the political “bubble” even as some criticized him for using his position to reward his friends.
“I’m not a big partisan guy,” Ford said during the Ontario leaders’ debate in May. “I can work all levels of government, all different political stripes.”
He proved this by making an unlikely friend in Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, a Liberal. In the fall of 2020 he told reporters they communicate “constantly.” Freeland told the Toronto Star he was her “therapist.”
Ford initially entered politics as a councillor in Toronto, Canada’s most populous city, where his brother was mayor.
After a failed bid to replace his brother, he ran to become leader of Ontario’s Progressive Conservative party in 2018, months before a provincial election, and won both contests.
Toronto councillor John Filion, who has written a book about the Ford family, described Doug Ford as “a rough, tough, brawling kind of guy. But he also wants everybody to like him. … He’s always the first guy to reach for the cheque. He’s glad to do a favour for a friend,” but he “couldn’t care less about policy.”
Ford has been accused multiple times of using his position to reward his friends, in one instance after his cabinet appointed a family friend as a police commissioner in late 2018. The friend later withdrew.
Asked about this, and media investigations that said party donors were poised to benefit from a highway development, a Ford spokesperson said Ford had a plan to boost the economy and build infrastructure.
He now faces an affordability crisis affecting everything from housing to groceries and a list of big-ticket promises he will have less money to pay for thanks to slashed taxes and fees.
For much of the coronavirus pandemic Ford held daily press conferences and polling showed his approval rating rising in the early months, said pollster Angus Reid President Shachi Kurl.
But his government faced criticism for failing to prioritize the most vulnerable with vaccines and rapid tests, for not bolstering the health care workforce and for not doing enough to address conditions in nursing homes. read more
Ford also unsuccessfully challenged the federal government’s carbon tax in court and capped salary increases for most public employees, including nurses.
Filion said Ford had shifted to a “kinder, gentler” mode, dropping his “belligerent” tendencies and was likely to maintain his “nice Doug” persona.
“I think Doug would like to be Prime Minister.”
A man shot and killed two women in the parking lot of a church in Iowa state on Thursday and then turned the gun on himself, police said, adding three more dead to the toll in a series of recent shootings that have rocked the United States.
The Iowa shooting took place shortly after President Joe Biden delivered a major address on gun violence in the wake of mass shootings in Buffalo, New York; Uvalde, Texas, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, in recent weeks. read more
Meanwhile another shooting on Thursday wounded two people attending a burial at cemetery in Racine, Wisconsin. read more
The Iowa shooting took place outside Cornerstone Church, a fundamentalist Christian church east of the city of Ames, while a church program was on inside, said Nicholas Lennie, chief deputy of the Story County Sheriff’s Office.
When deputies arrived on scene they found all three dead, Lennie said, adding that he could not provide identities nor disclose what the relationship between them may have been.
“This appears to be an isolated, single-shooter incident,” Lennie said.
Moments before, Biden urged Congress to ban assault weapons, expand background checks and implement other gun control measures to address the mass shootings.
“Enough, enough!,” the president said.
The United States has been shaken in recent weeks by the mass shootings that killed 10 Black residents in upstate New York, 19 children and two teachers in Texas, and two doctors, a receptionist and a patient in Oklahoma.
In Racine, Wisconsin, on Thursday, multiple gunshots were fired into a crowd of mourners attending an afternoon grave-side funeral, wounding two people, Racine police Sergeant Kristi Wilcox told reporters.
One victim was treated at a local hospital and released, the other was flown to a Milwaukee hospital, apparently suffering more serious injuries, Wilcox said. No suspect was taken into custody.