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Dec 5, 2014 8:57 AM

US jobs data help shore up markets

The Associated Press

LONDON (AP) Forecast-busting U.S. jobs data on Friday pushed up stocks even though the figures may prompt the Federal Reserve to raise borrowing costs sooner than anticipated. The dollar was a big gainer following the figures.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, the jobs data gave markets a further nudge higher, a day after they were hammered by the failure of the European Central Bank to announce a fresh stimulus. Germany's DAX was up 1.8 percent at 10,021 while the CAC-40 in France rose 1.9 percent to 4,407. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 1 percent higher at 6,744. Wall Street was poised for a steady opening with both Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures up 0.3 percent.

US JOBS: The main focus in the markets Friday was the monthly U.S. payrolls data from the Labor Department. They showed U.S. employers added 321,000 jobs last month, the biggest burst of hiring in nearly three years. November marks the 10th straight month of strong U.S. job gains above 200,000 and would put 2014 on track to be the best year for hiring since 1999.

ANALYST TAKE: "Today's remarkably positive nonfarm payrolls figures indicate that the U.S. is in a rather nice position at present," said Dennis de Jong, managing director at UFX.com. "Today's data is likely to result in further support for the dollar."

DOLLAR REACTION: The payrolls data could ratchet up expectations in the markets that the Fed will soon be in a position to start raising interest rates. The reaction in the currency markets certainly suggests so, with the euro down 0.8 percent at $1.2291 and the dollar up 1.2 percent at 121.17 yen. Higher rates tend to strengthen a currency.

ECB MEETING: The gains in Europe come a day after markets in the region fell sharply in the wake of the European Central Bank's decision to not unveil any fresh stimulus for the ailing eurozone economy. Instead, ECB President Mario Draghi said the ECB will reassess in the first months of 2015 the success of its existing stimulus programs and the impact of the recent plunge in oil prices on the economy of the 18-country euro bloc.

ASIA'S DAY: Tokyo's Nikkei 225 added 0.2 percent to 17,920.45 and South Korea's Kospi closed flat at 1,986.62. Stocks in Hong Kong and mainland China finished higher. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 0.7 percent to 24,002.64 while's China Shanghai Composite rose 1.3 percent to 2,937.65. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 dropped 0.6 percent to 5,335.30.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude was down 31 cents at $66.50 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude declined 26 cents to $69.38 a barrel on the ICE exchange in London


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