Stock futures gain on strong jobs data

NEW YORK/TOKYO (BestGrowthStock) – U.S. stock index futures rallied in a shortened session and the dollar gained after the U.S. government said job growth last month rose at its strongest pace in three years.

S&P 500 futures rose 3.5 points and were above fair value in a short session that ended at 9:15 a.m. (1315 GMT). The rise in futures augurs for gains in global stocks when markets reopen next week as equities have moved steadily higher lately, extending a 70 percent rally from a year ago.

“Overall, we should be pleased by this figure and can expect equities to continue their ascent — at least in the short-term,” said Todd Schoenberger, managing director at Landcolt Trading in San Antonio.

U.S. non-farm payrolls rose by 162,000 in March, bolstered by better-than-expected hiring from private employers, which suggests the economic recovery is gathering steam with less potential need for government support.

The news dampened interest in the safe-haven investment of government bonds, as the U.S. benchmark 10-year yield hit a 9-1/2 month high. The yield briefly touched 3.95 percent, a worrisome sign ahead of the auction of more U.S. debt next week. Rising yields are seen as a headwind for stocks, because it boosts borrowing costs for companies.

The U.S. dollar initially fell on the payrolls data, but recovered to trade higher. The euro fell (Read more about the trembling euro. ) 0.7 percent against the dollar to $1.3485, as global macro hedge funds had sold euros following the jobs data. The dollar rose 0.8 percent to 94.69 yen, the highest since late August, according to Reuters data.

Most markets were closed worldwide, and European markets will be closed Monday for the observance of the Easter holiday.

Asian shares rose on Friday, with South Korean stocks hitting a 21-month high, and Japan’s Nikkei average rose to an 18-month peak for the fourth straight day.

But trade was light, with many investors in the region as well as in Europe and the United States away for the Good Friday holiday, and gains were limited by caution ahead of the U.S. payroll figures.

Japan’s Nikkei average was boosted by a rise in technology shares and automakers such as Honda Motor Co (7267.T: ) and Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T: ) following a jump in U.S. auto sales in March.

The Nikkei (.N225: ) closed up 0.4 percent at 11,286.09, an 18-month closing high.

The MSCI’s broad measure of shares in the Asia-Pacific excluding Japan edged up 0.1 percent (.MIAPJ0000PUS: ), paring gains after hitting its highest level in nearly three months.

South Korea’s KOSPI (.KS11: ) touched a high of 1,725.39, its loftiest level since late June 2008, as Hyundai Motor jumped 5.8 percent and Samsung Electronics rose 1.4 percent. The index later pared its gains to 0.3 percent.

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(Reporting by Elaine Lies; additional reporting by Masayuki Kitno, Kaori Kaneko, Shinichi Saoshiro, Satomi Noguchi in Tokyo and Jungyoun Park in Seoul; Editing by Padraic Cassidy)

Stock futures gain on strong jobs data