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Oct 3, 2014 8:52 AM

Forecast-busting US jobs data shores up stocks

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) Stronger than expected U.S. jobs data shored up stock markets Friday and helped propel the dollar higher as currency traders think the figures will make it more likely that the Federal Reserve will soon start raising interest rates.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, markets recovered from a battering the day before when the European Central Bank failed to announce further stimulus measures. France's CAC-40 was up 0.7 percent at 4,273 while the FTSE 100 index of leading British shares rose 1.2 percent to 6,520. German markets were closed for a holiday. Wall Street looked set for a strong opening, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.7 percent.

PAYROLLS IN FOCUS: The positive tone in stock markets remained after figures showed that U.S. employers added 248,000 jobs in September, slightly above market expectations for a 215,000 increase. The hiring helped drive down the unemployment rate to 5.9 percent, the lowest since July 2008, from 6.1 percent in August. The Labor Department report Friday also revised up figures for July and August. The Fed is closely watching the jobs data as it assesses when to start raising interest rates from near zero percent.

DOLLAR SPIKES: With rate hike expectations mounting, the dollar pushed higher after the figures. The euro was down 1 percent at $1.2536 while the dollar rose 0.9 percent to 109.34 yen.

ANALYST TAKE: "September's figures are more than encouraging and, with the labor market recovering and momentum building, expectations of an interest rate hike will grow," said Dennis de Jong, managing director at UFX.com.

ASIA'S DAY: Hong Kong's Hang Seng recovered early losses to close up 0.6 percent at 23,064.56 despite pro-democracy protests. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 gained 0.3 percent to 15,708.65 and Sydney's S&P ASX 200 added 0.4 percent to 5,318.20. Market benchmarks in Taiwan, Singapore and Manila also rose. South Korean and Indian markets were closed for holidays.

HONG KONG: Stocks rallied after Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying offered talks with protesters who oppose plans to require candidates for the 2017 election for his successor to be approved by a panel dominated by pro-Beijing business leaders. Protesters say the communist mainland government is reneging on a promise of "universal suffrage" for the territory. Stocks in retailing and tourism have plunged but analysts say the economic impact of the protests is limited.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 28 cents to $90.69 despite concern supplies exceed global demand.


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