Global stocks at record high ahead of US jobs data

Payrolls report will colour expectations about when the Federal Reserve might taper pandemic-era stimulus

Most Asian stocks rose on Friday and the dollar held a drop after cyclicals led Wall Street to a record high ahead of a US jobs report that will shape views on the outlook for Federal Reserve monetary policy.

MSCI’s Asia-Pacific gauge climbed for a sixth day, the longest streak since January. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s plan to resign sent Japanese shares to a three-decade high on expectations that his successor may boost stimulus.

Chinese technology stocks fell, with investors continuing to weigh Beijing’s regulatory crackdown. US futures advanced and European contracts were steady after energy shares helped the S&P 500 to an all-time high. A global stock index was also at an unprecedented level.

The payrolls report will colour expectations about when the Fed might taper pandemic-era stimulus and how long it can wait before raising interest rates.

The US probably added 725,000 jobs in August – a more moderate pace compared with the previous two months, but stronger than early 2021.

The US 10-year Treasury yield edged up and the dollar was near a four-week low.

The jobs figures are another potential test of the prevailing calm in financial markets, which so far have weathered risks to economic reopening from coronavirus variants and the prospect of less expansive monetary policy.

Goldman Sachs Group strategists said concerns about economic expansion are overdone, pointing to possible gains in cyclical assets in the near future.

We’re going to let the economy continue to run until we see signs of inflation
Raphael Bostic, president, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta

Pre-payrolls “asset market exuberance appears to be more than just Jackson Hole after-glow”, Vishnu Varathan, head of economics and strategy at Mizuho Bank in Singapore, wrote in a note. “Instead, the evidence suggests markets may be getting high on bets” of a low jobs report that nudges the Fed to defer tapering for longer, he said.

In the latest Fed comments, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta president Raphael Bostic said “we’re going to let the economy continue to run until we see signs of inflation”, before stepping in on interest rates.

US data showed initial jobless claims declined to a new pandemic low, while factory orders beat expectations.

Traders are continuing to monitor the political debate over planned US fiscal outlays. Senator Joe Manchin is demanding a “strategic pause” in action on President Joe Biden’s economic agenda, potentially endangering the $3.5 trillion tax and spending package.

Elsewhere, oil was near $70 a barrel on bets that the market can absorb additional supply from Opec+ as the US Gulf grapples with the effects of Hurricane Ida.

Bitcoin slipped back to about $49,500 after briefly surpassing $50,000 a day earlier.

Updated: September 3rd 2021, 8:06 AM