Asian markets may end the week on a positive note after Wall Street extended gains on Thursday for a fifth straight session amid signs the U.S. job market is holding up and that trade tensions between the U.S. and China could ease.
In the U.S. weekly initial jobless claims fell more than expected to 216,000, down 17,000 from the previous week’s revised 233,000, RTT reported.
That offered markets some optimism on the state of the U.S. economy.
“There are increasing risks and caution over the economic outlook in 2019, but jobless claims say the seas are calm and it looks to be smooth sailing for the economy for now,” Chris Rupkey, chief financial economist at MUFG Union Bank, said in a note on Thursday.
“It tells Fed officials that the turbulence in financial markets and growth slowdown in many parts of the world has not made its way to U.S. shores. You can’t have a recession without job losses,” he said, but issued the caveat that the continuing U.S. government shutdown might spur layoffs at companies providing services and goods to the government.
In addition, U.S.-China trade talks, which concluded this week, continued to offer some positive signals for the market of a rapprochement in the Trump administration’s trade war.
Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top negotiator, may visit the U.S. later this month to meet with high-level U.S. administration officials, with high-level talks potentially signaling key decisions to reach a deal, Reuters reported on Thursday, citing people familiar with the three days of talks.
March futures for Japan’s Nikkei 225 index were down 35 points at 20,340 at 8:00 A.M. SGT, according to CME data; that compares with the index’s close at 20,163.80 on Thursday.
Singapore’s Straits Times Index gained 0.81 percent to 3183.51 on Thursday; January futures for the index were at 3183 on Thursday, while February and March futures were at 3186 and 3183 respectively.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index was up 0.22 percent at 26,521.43 on Thursday, while China’s CSI 300 composite shed 0.19 percent to 3072.686.
Malaysia’s KLCI added 0.66 percent to 1678.88 on Thursday, while Indonesia’s IDX Composite gained 0.90 percent to 6328.71.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average tacked on 0.51 percent to 24,001.92, the Nasdaq Composite added 0.42 percent to 6986.068, and the S&P 500 rose 0.45 percent to 2596.64. Futures for the three indexes had their noses in the red in early trade.
Nymex WTI crude oil futures for February were down 0.57 percent at US$52.29 a barrel at 7:27 A.M. SGT, while ICE Brent crude futures for March were up 0.39 percent at US$61.68 a barrel at 6:53 A.M. SGT, according to Bloomberg data.