Asian Shares Edge Higher ahead of US Jobs Data

Markets in Asia and the Pacific region edged higher on Friday as investors watched US employment data that will help define the path forward for Federal Reserve monetary tightening.

As of 9.30 A.M. (Thai time), the Nikkei 225 in Japan rose 0.43%. South Korea’s Kospi gained 0.83% and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.50%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index rose 0.6%. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite was marginally up.

On Wall Street, the Dow fell 300 points as investors awaited additional job reports due out Friday in the United States.  The three major indices are on track to record their fifth straight week of losses.

The widely upbeat sentiment comes ahead of the release of US nonfarm payroll data on Friday. According to estimates, the number of new jobs added will fall, signaling a cooling in the labor market, which will diminish the demand for higher interest rates. However, better-than-expected reading of private payrolls data released Thursday with a surprise fall in new claims for unemployment claims suggested a solid labor market despite the Fed’s efforts to contain inflation and signal there is potential for higher rates.

Markets are now pricing in a peak in US interest rates above 5% for the month of June. This rise came after Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic remarked on Thursday that there is “much work to do” before inflation can be brought under control.