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Asian stock markets rise after weak US hiring data

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Asian stock markets are higher after weak U.S. hiring in August fueled expectations the Federal Reserve might postpone withdrawal of economic stimulus that has boosted stock prices

Shanghai, Tokyo and Hong Kong, which are the bulk of the region’s market capitalization, advanced. Seoul and Sydney retreated.

Wall Street’s benchmark S&P 500 index fell 0.1% on Friday, but still was near a record high, after the Labor Department reported U.S. employers added 235,000 jobs in August, barely one-third of the consensus forecast of 730,000.

Investors appeared to welcome that, because the Fed might be prompted to postpone a reduction in bond purchases that pump money into the financial system. Officials have indicated the Fed board might decide about that this month but wants to be sure a recovery is established and say employment is a key factor.

“The weaker-than-expected jobs gains drastically reduce the chance of Fed tapering” at the September board meeting, Yeap Jun Rong of IG said in a report.

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The Shanghai Composite Index rose 1% to 3,617.53 and the Nikkei 225 in Tokyo gained 1.8% to 29,650.21. The Hang Seng in Hong Kong advanced 0.5% to 26,027.23.

The Kospi in South Korea shed 0.2% to 3,193.84 and Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 lost 0.3% to 7,502.30.

India’s Sensex opened up 0.2% at 58,269.19. New Zealand, Singapore and Bangkok gained while Jakarta retreated.

The weak U.S. hiring also prompted concern the spread of the coronavirus’s more contagious delta variant is hurting economic growth. It was well below the monthly average of more than 900,000 jobs added in June and July.

On Friday, the S&P 500 slipped 1.52 points to 4,535.43. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 0.2% to 35,369.09. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.2% to a record 15,363.52, its third straight weekly gain.

The Fed has been pumping money into the financial system through $120 billion a month in bond purchases.

In energy markets, benchmark U.S. crude fell 79 to $68.50 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract sank 70 cents on Friday to $69.29. Brent crude, the basis for international oil prices, lost 85 cents to $71.76 per barrel in London. It declined 42 cents the previous session to $72.61.

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The dollar advanced to 109.80 yen from Friday’s 109.64 yen. The euro declined to $1.1869 from $1.1891.

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