Asian Stocks Hit Three-year High on Upbeat U.S. Reports



Asian shares rose to a three-year peak on Friday and the dollar held near its overnight highs after U.S. jobs data showed the lowest unemployment rate in six years and underscored the strength of the economic recovery.

Malaysia’s ringgit strengthened as copper headed for a third weekly advance. Japan's Nikkei stock average rose 0.6 percent, hitting a 5-1/2-month high and poised to gain 2.3 percent for the week.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index increased 0.4 percent by 11:55 a.m. in Tokyo, adding 1.7 percent in an eighth week of gains, its steepest climb in three months. Japan’s Topix (TPX) index was up 0.5 percent. Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDU) futures were little changed after the gauge topped 17,000 for the first time before today’s U.S. holiday. An index of Asian bond risk fell a third day and copper was set for its biggest weekly jump since September.

Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index gained 0.7 percent, headed for its highest close since April 28 and the biggest weekly advance since February, up 1.5 percent. The Kospi (KOSPI) index in Seoul was little changed today, up 1 percent in the week. HTC Corp. (2498), maker of the M8 smartphone, rose 2.9 percent in Taipei after posting second-quarter earnings that exceeded analyst estimates.

Wall Street

U.S. markets are closed Friday for the July 4 Independence Day holiday, so the key monthly jobs report was released on Thursday.

The U.S. Labor Department's figures showed that nonfarm payrolls rose by 288,000 last month and the unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent. Employment has grown at more than 200,000 in each of the last five months, the first such streak since the late 1990s.

The report helped the Dow Jones industrial average pass the 17,000 milestone and the benchmark S&P 500 rise to within 1 percent of the 2,000 level. The data also pushed up the benchmark U.S. Treasury yield to a two-month high. The benchmark 10-year yield last stood at 2.641 percent, not far from its U.S. close of 2.648 percent on Thursday, when it rose as high as 2.69 percent.

The dollar edged slightly down against the yen to 102.14 yen, but remained not far from a two-week peak of 102.26 yen touched on Thursday, when it marked its largest daily gain in a month. The euro was flat on the day at $1.3609, after dropping to a one-week low of $1.3597 on Thursday.

Cina Coren is a former Wall Street broker and financial advisor. She holds a Master's degree in Communications and spent many years writing for international news outlets and journalistic publications. Today, Cina spends most of her time writing internet articles and blogs, and reading various newspapers to stay on top of the news.