• Japan stocks dip, yen rises after weak US job report

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    HONG KONG- Tokyo shares ended lower Monday while the yen climbed against the dollar following a worse than expected US jobs report seen as making an early US rate rise more unlikely.

    Oil prices rose on expectations that any new exports from Iran would not likely come on the market for some time, despite the initial nuclear agreement.

    With several major markets shut for public holidays and Wall Street closed Friday, trading was thin with few catalysts to spur business.

    Tokyo fell 0.19 percent, or 37.10 points, to 19,397.98 and Seoul was flat, edging up 1.01 points to close at 2,046.43. In late trade Singapore was marginally higher.

    Shanghai, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Taipei, Sydney and Wellington were closed.

    The US Labor Department’s monthly non-farm payrolls report on Friday showed just 126,000 new jobs were created in March, half of what was expected and the weakest growth since December 2013.

    The figures hinted at a possible slowdown in the world’s top economy and will make it highly unlikely the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates earlier than September.

    Analysts put the weak figures down to the impact of a strong dollar, cold weather and falling oil prices.

    The news weighed on the dollar, which has been rallying in recent weeks on expectations the Fed would increase rates by the summer.

    The dollar fell to 119.03 yen Monday from 119.62 yen in Tokyo on Friday, while the euro climbed to $1.0971 from $1.0879. The single currency was at 130.57 yen from 130.16 yen.

    A pick-up in the yen pushed shares in Japanese exporters down as it makes their goods more expensive abroad.

    “We should see a correction in Japanese stocks as the stronger yen pushes down exporters,” Shoji Hirakawa, chief equity strategist at Okasan Securities Co. in Tokyo, told Bloomberg News.

    “The US economy has hit a soft patch due to the stronger dollar and weaker oil. First-quarter earnings and gross domestic product probably won’t be good.”

    Oil prices rose because Tehran’s nuclear deal with the West has still to be finalised, meaning sanctions will stay in place for now.

    US benchmark West Texas Intermediate was up $1.21 cents at $50.35 while Brent added $1.17 to $56.12.

    Oil was also supported by news that major producer Saudi Arabia raised prices for all May sales to Asia, saying demand was improving.

    However, Sanjeev Gupta, who heads the Asia-Pacific Oil and Gas practice at professional services firm EY, said prices are likely to resume their downtrend as traders digest the impact of the agreement between Iran and the US-led western powers.

    “We anticipate stronger negative reactions to the benchmark prices this week,” Gupta said.
    Gold fetched $1,218.32 against $1,200.50 late Friday.

    AFP

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