Asian Markets Down As Traders Eye US Jobs Report

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Japanese markets started higher before seeing early gains erased on Friday with Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index briefly hitting a record high, as traders prepared for a key US jobs report.

The broader Topix index also surpassed its previous peak set in 1989. European markets had moved upward on Thursday over calming electoral news in the United Kingdom and France.

“The fact that the Topix, which indicates the overall performance of the Japanese market, has in turn broken its own record, is news of great importance,” said analyst Takuma Ikemoto of the Tokai Tokyo Intelligence Lab.

The capitalisation of Japan’s Prime market has increased significantly, showing “that Japanese companies are constantly strengthening their ability to generate profits and… indicates that the Japanese stock market has entered a new phase”, he added.

The yen continued strengthening against the dollar after hitting its lowest level in nearly four decades.

News that Samsung Electronics forecast second-quarter profits to beat expectations by over 25 percent due to rising chip prices and growing demand for generative AI sent its share price higher and spurred the market in Seoul.

A European Commission probe launched last year concluded that state subsidies for Chinese EV manufacturers were unfairly undercutting European rivals — which Brussels wants to shield as they transition from thermal to electric power.

Trading in Europe was dominated by two major elections, with investors eyeing polls in the UK and France.

The return of the main opposition Labour Party to power in Britain ended 14 years of Tory rule and strengthened the pound even before results were announced.

After a prime ministerial game of musical chairs at Downing Street, an expected period of stability has ushered in optimism for investors.

In France, efforts to block the far-right from taking over the government have boosted the Euro and breathed life into European markets.

But analysts remain wary that the second-biggest economy in the European Union could be headed for a period of political deadlock if there is no overall winner in the polls.

Investor sentiment was also lifted Thursday as softer US labour market data gave the Federal Reserve room to cut interest rates, with another key jobs report due Friday.

“We expect US labour market data will show more signs of cooling in June,” Alvin Tan of RBC Capital Markets said.

Gains were capped, with Wall Street shut for the July 4 Independence Day holiday in the United States.

Tokyo – Nikkei 225: DOWN 0.3 percent at 40,789.59

Hong Kong – Hang Seng Index: DOWN 1.0 percent at 17,850.47

Shanghai – Composite: DOWN 1.2 percent at 2,921.92

Euro/dollar: UP at $1.0823 from $1.0813

Pound/dollar: UP at $1.2770 from $1.2765

Dollar/yen: DOWN at 160.62 yen from 161.16 yen

Euro/pound: UP at 84.75 pence from 84.69 pence

West Texas Intermediate: DOWN 0.2 percent at $83.66 per barrel

Brent North Sea Crude: DOWN 0.3 percent at $87.10 per barrel

New York – Dow: Closed for public holiday

London – FTSE 100: UP 0.9 percent at 8,241.26 points (close)