Strong employment data out of the U.S. on Friday increased investor confidence and sent Asian markets higher on Monday. The advance followed Wall Street’s lead when all major indexes closed higher on Friday. The U.S. economy added 223,000 jobs in May, beating expectations for 188,000 new jobs. The country’s unemployment rate is now 3.8 percent, the lowest its been since April 2000. In light of the positive economic data released in recent days, analysts are expecting another interest rate hike at the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting next week.
Asian shares hit their highest levels in 2 ½ weeks, despite lingering trade war concerns between the U.S. and China. In advance of the G7 summit next week in Quebec, the six nations outside the U.S. united for a rare joint statement asking U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to express their “unanimous concern and disappointment” about President Trump’s tariffs. There is a question whether President Trump will opt out of the summit this weekend.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 surged 1.36 percent as of 12:56 p.m. HK/SIN, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 1.30 percent. Australia’s ASX 200 gained 0.53 percent, and the Shanghai Composite and the Kospi were both up just over 0.20 percent.
Oil Prices Head Lower
Oil prices were lower for the second consecutive session on Monday, pressured by record U.S. output and predictions of higher OPEC production. U.S. WTI futures were down 0.23 percent to $65.66 per barrel and Brent crude futures were 0.47 percent lower to trade at $76.43 per barrel. U.S. drillers added two oil rigs last week, bringing the total to 861. In recent days Saudi Arabia and Russia have mulled the possibility of increasing output though a final decision has not been made.