By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO (Reuters) – Asian shares rose on Monday and the dollar wallowed close to its lowest in nearly a month after U.S. nonfarm payrolls showed the slowest job growth in more than five years, quashing expectations for a near-term U.S. interest rate hike.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.4 percent in early trade. Wall Street ended down on Friday, though off session lows, with the S&P 500 finishing within just 1.5 percent of its record closing high.
Japan’s Nikkei stock index slipped 1.6 percent, after the dollar skidded 2 percent against the yen on Friday.
U.S. nonfarm payrolls rose by just 38,000 last month, the smallest increase since September 2010 and well shy of expectations for a rise of 164,000. All 105 economists polled by Reuters had forecast higher numbers.
A Reuters poll of Wall Street’s top banks taken after the jobs figures showed that all of them expect the U.S. Federal Reserve to leave interest rates unchanged at its June 14-15 policy meeting.
“I am still on the side that the U.S. economy is better than these data look, but it is also the case that the Fed has less confidence than I do and the market is unlikely to turn around unless there is a major piece of data that surprises on the upside,” Steven Englander, managing director and global head of G10 FX strategy at Citigroup in New York, said in a note.
Data on the U.S. non-manufacturing sector also disappointed, showing a drop in the May headline index to 52.9 from 55.7 in April.
Fed funds futures rates indicated that traders see only a 6 percent chance of a Fed hike this month, down from 21 percent as recently as Thursday, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool.
Later in the session on Monday, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen will address an event in Philadelphia. Markets will pay close attention to her last official remarks ahead of the pre-meeting media blackout.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, edged up 0.1 percent to 94.112 but remained not far above Friday’s low of 93.855, its lowest since May 12.
The dollar rose 0.1 percent to 106.64 yen after brushing as low as 106.35 earlier in the session, its deepest nadir in a month.
The euro inched 0.1 percent lower to $1.1350, after nosing to a fresh high of $1.1375 earlier, its highest level since May 13.
Sterling tumbled 0.7 percent to $1.4396 after sinking as low as $1.4352 earlier, wallowing around three week lows as voters in Britain gear up for the June 23 referendum on whether to remain in the European Union.
Crude oil prices steadied after plunging more than 1 percent in the wake of Friday’s disappointing payrolls figures. Weekly industry data had also shown U.S. drillers added rigs for only the second time this year.
U.S. crude futures added 0.5 percent to $48.88 per barrel, after logging a 1.1 percent drop for the week, their first weekly decline in four weeks.
Brent crude futures added 0.5 percent to $49.89, after they managed to mark their eighth weekly gain in nine weeks.
(Reporting by Lis Twaronite; Editing by Eric Meijer)
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