BANGKOK - World stock markets advanced Friday but gains were held in check as investors awaited a U.S. jobs report that could solidify expectations about when the Federal Reserve will start reducing its expansive stimulus.
Markets in Asia were patchy while
European benchmarks posted modest gains. Germany's DAX added 0.6 percent to
9,136.06 and France's CAC-40 rose 0.4 percent to 4,116.63. Britain's FTSE 100
gained 0.4 percent to 6,527.25. Futures augured an advance on Wall Street, with
Dow and S&P 500 futures both up 0.3 percent.
Belief that the Fed will decide to
begin "tapering" its $85 billion in monthly asset purchases at its
Dec. 18 meeting ratcheted up after the U.S. government reported that the U.S. economy grew at an annualized rate of 3.6 percent in the third quarter, its
fastest pace since the first quarter of 2012.
A 23,000 fall in weekly U.S. jobless claims to 298,000 also added to the evidence that the U.S. economy is growing
strongly and that the stimulus, which has kept interest rates low to spur
recovery, will be reduced. Whether those expectations remain intact could hinge
on Friday's official jobs report for November. Economists are forecasting that
employers added 180,000 jobs last month, according to a survey by FactSet.
"U.S. data has been fairly robust
this week and judging by the fact the S&P 500 has closed lower for the past
five days, there is increased expectations for a solid number in today's U.S.
payrolls report," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in
Earlier this year, fears of the
stimulus withdrawal had caused jitters in the markets as the monetary injection
has helped to shore up stocks for several years. Recently, though, the reaction
has been more muted amid the realization that it's predicated on an improving
Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average rose
0.8 percent to 15,299.86 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.1 percent to
23,743.10. China's Shanghai Composite dropped 0.4 percent to 2,237.11 and
Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent to 5,186.
Benchmarks in Taiwan, South Korea and
Southeast Asia fell.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S.
crude for January delivery was down 16 cents at $97.22 a barrel in electronic
trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 18 cents to
close at $97.38 on Thursday.
The euro ticked down to $1.3666 from
$1.3667 late Thursday. The dollar rose to 102.17 yen from 101.82 yen.