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US jobs data boost Asian stocks

Asian stocks rose today after the United States said unemployment hit a two-year low last month, while Japanese traders were lifted by a weaker yen.

business Updated: Apr 04, 2011 09:48 IST

Asian stocks rose on Monday after the United States said unemployment hit a two-year low last month, while Japanese traders were lifted by a weaker yen.

However, optimism on Tokyo's Nikkei was subdued by the re-release of the Bank of Japan's Tankan survey of business confidence that took into account the effects of last month's quake-tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis.

Tokyo added 0.72% by the break, Hong Kong rose 1.11% and Sydney gained 0.64%.

However, Seoul slipped 0.31% after rising for five straight sessions to hit a record high on Friday.

Shanghai and Taipei were closed for a public holiday.

The US Labor Department said on Friday that 216,000 non-farm jobs were created last month, a fourth straight gain, while unemployment fell to 8.8%.

The jobless rate has fallen 1.0 percentage point since November and is at its lowest since March 2009.

Traders welcomed the data, which suggest the world's biggest economy has finally turned the corner to recovery after it was hammered by the global financial crisis.

It has also lent support to expectations that the Federal Reserve will bring an end to its huge bond-selling, known as quantitative easing, that saw markets flooded with dollars.

"Although the next US monetary policy meeting is a few weeks away, with the end of QE2 in June fast approaching, markets are beginning to more seriously consider the Fed's next move," ANZ Bank said in a note to clients.

"One thing seems certain, and that's that the excess liquidity created by almost infinitely loose monetary policy will not last forever," it said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.

With hopes for the US economy bolstered and the prospect of fewer dollars floating around, the greenback continued its rise against the yen.

In early Asian trade the dollar firmed to 84.14 yen, from 84.00 yen in New York on Friday.

The euro also gained, trading at 119.82 yen from 119.46 and at $1.4240 from $1.4225 as dealers expect the European Central Bank to soon raise the interest rate in the eurozone as it battles to control inflation.

Despite easing concerns over the ongoing battle to avert a catastrophe at the Fukushima Daiichi atomic plant in Japan, sentiment continues to weigh on investors.

On Monday the Bank of Japan released a revised Tankan showing business confidence for the April-June quarter had plummeted after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, which killed thousands and crippled the nuclear plant.

The US jobs figures, combined with the conflict in Libya and unrest around the oil-rich Middle East, sent oil higher.

New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in May, rose 72 cents to $108.66 per barrel, topping Friday's peak of $107.93 and hitting its highest level since late September 2008.

Brent North Sea crude for May delivery advanced 40 cents to $119.10.

Gold opened at $1,430.00-$1,431.00 an ounce in Hong Kong, down from Friday's close of $1,433.50-$1,434.50.