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Asia dips, US dollar at 7-mth high as US jobs data bolsters case for Dec Fed hike
[TOKYO] Asian stocks slipped and the dollar stood at a 7-month high against its peers early on Monday after robust US jobs data bolstered expectations of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike in December.
Data on Friday showed nonfarm payrolls increased 271,000 in October, the largest gain since last December. The unemployment rate fell to 5.0 per cent, the lowest since April 2008.
Prospects of the Fed hiking rates for the first time in almost a decade and ending seven years of easy monetary policy, which have pump-primed global markets with flush liquidity, weighed on riskier assets.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dipped 0.5 per cent, while Australian shares lost 0.7 per cent. The Nikkei bucked the trend and gained 1.1 per cent after the yen weakened significantly against the dollar.
In recent months financial markets have been buffeted by uncertainty over the timing of the Fed's rate hike, with some traders worrying that higher borrowing costs in the United States could drag on a shaky global economy.
However, the early fall in Asian stock prices were measured, probably reflecting trading on Wall Street, which bounced from a selloff to end little changed on Friday. "With (Fed Chair) Janet Yellen holding firm on a December rate hike expectation during her testimony to Congress on Thursday, and then the massive beat from the non-farm payrolls (NFP) on Friday, 2015 has been realigned with the beginning of the year's expectations of at least one rate hike," wrote Evan Lucas, market strategist at IG in Melbourne. "What is also interesting from this realignment is the markets have not thrown a 'tantrum' or gone into 'hysterics' - yet. Time will tell, but the orderly movements of the NFP on Friday suggests the market will take a small increase to the Fed funds rate in its stride." Interest rates futures were pricing in a 70 per cent probability that the US central bank will raise borrowing costs next month, according to the CME Group's FedWatch.
In currencies, the dollar index, a measure of the greenback's strength against a basket of key currencies, stood near a 7-month high of 99.317.
The dollar advanced to a 2-1/2-month peak of 123.35 yen early in Asia. The euro was steady at US$1.0727, in striking distance of a 6-month trough of US$1.0704 struck on Friday.
Supporting the US currency was higher Treasury yields. US debt yields soared on Friday in the wake of the strong jobs data, with the 2-year yield reaching a 5-1/2-year high.
Oil struggled after sliding on the back of dollar's surge, which makes the dollar-denominated commodity more expensive for purchasers.
US crude stood little changed at US$44.30 a barrel after shedding 2 per cent on Friday.