NEW YORK/LONDON (Reuters) -The benchmark U.S. Treasury yield jumped on Friday on fears of rising inflation while equity markets wavered after a weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs report likely pushed back when the Federal Reserve will start to reduce its support for the economy.
U.S. employers created the fewest jobs in seven months in August as the COVID-19 Delta variant stalled hiring in the leisure and hospitality sector, but a 0.6% increase in wages and other data showed underlying economic strength.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 235,000 in August, well short of the 728,000 forecast by economists in a Reuters poll. But the unemployment rate fell to 5.2% from 5.4% the prior month, the Labor Department said.
The broad S&P 500 and Dow fell as the slowdown in U.S. jobs growth raised questions about the pace of the economic recovery. But the tech-heavy Nasdaq and its global counterpart, MSCI’s all-country world index, held near break-even as the report calmed fears of an imminent Fed tapering of monetary support.
A taper announcement is off the table in September after the jobs report, said Lee Ferridge, North American head of multi-asset strategy at State Street Global Markets.
“Support from the Fed for these markets is going to persist. Taper starts later rather than sooner. That’s positive for equities, that’s positive for risk,” he said.
“As long as the Fed is printing, then that means that the equity markets are supported by the whole QE liquidity argument,” Ferridge said.
MSCI’s all-country world index was flat while broad STOXX Europe 600 index slid 0.65%.
On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.23%, the S&P 500 eased 0.17% and the Nasdaq Composite edged up 0.03%.
Yields on the benchmark 10-year Treasury note rose 3 basis points to 1.324%, from around 1.299% before the data was released as the jump in hourly earnings raised the inflation alarm for investors.
The dollar index dropped to a low of 91.941, its lowest level since Aug. 4, and was last down 0.18% at 92.054.
The European single currency edged up 0.03%. Markets are starting to react to the potential for more sustained euro zone inflation and reduced stimulus from the European Central Bank, which meets next week.
In Europe, data showed that euro zone business activity remained strong last month, despite fears about the Delta variant and widespread supply chain issues.
JAPAN JUMPS, CHINA EASES
Japanese shares jumped after officials said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga would step down, setting the stage for a new premier after a one-year tenure marred by an unpopular COVID-19 response and rapidly dwindling public support.
Japan’s TOPIX stock index rose to a 30-year high and was last up 1.61%, with the Nikkei gaining 2%. Asian shares are still off their peaks from earlier in the year however, and lagging those elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Chinese blue chips were down 0.5% and Hong Kong was off 0.72% after activity in China’s services sector slumped into sharp contraction in August, a private survey showed on Friday, hurt by restrictions imposed to curb the COVID-19 Delta variant.
Brent crude futures were last down 10 cents at $72.93 a barrel. U.S. crude fell 34 cents $69.65 a barrel.
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