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Asia: Stocks fall as investors weigh Fed moves, US jobs data

Asian stocks fell as investors weighed comments from a Federal Reserve official ahead of US employment data.

[SYDNEY] Asian stocks fell as investors weighed comments from a Federal Reserve official ahead of US employment data.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index slipped 0.3 percent to 141.24 as of 9:02 a.m. in Tokyo. Interest-rate futures showed traders are raising the likelihood of an increase next month by the Federal Reserve, after Fed Bank of Atlanta President Dennis Lockhart said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that it would take significant deterioration in economic data to convince him that a hike in September should be delayed.

"A lot of it is going to hinge on these next few data points, with the jobs report on Friday that will be important," Mark Lister, head of private wealth research at Craigs Investment Partners in Wellington, which manages about US$7.2 billion, said by phone. "For all their faults, equities still seem to stack up better than a lot of other asset classes." Japan's Topix index was little changed. South Korea's Kospi added 0.1 per cent. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index declined 0.1 per cent and New Zealand's NZX 50 Index rose 0.2 per cent.

Futures on Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and contracts on the Hang Seng China Enterprises Index increased 0.4 per cent. Contracts on the FTSE China A50 Index, which tracks the biggest mainland Chinese shares, dropped 0.1 per cent in Singapore as futures on the Shanghai Shenzhen CSI 300 Index jumped 6 per cent.

Chinese stocks listed in the US rallied Tuesday after a 3.7 per cent climb in the Shanghai Composite Index. Chinese equities climbed for only the second time in eight days last session after local authorities imposed restrictions on short selling, their latest salvo in a bid to stem gyrations in the stock market. Some brokerages halted their short-selling businesses entirely.

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US payrolls probably rose by 225,000 in July, according to the median estimate of 83 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News ahead of Friday's government jobs report. That compares with 223,000 in June. The private ADP National Employment Report is due Wednesday.

Traders are pricing in a 48 per cent probability that the Fed will raise interest rates in September. That compares with a 38 per cent chance earlier Tuesday.

E-mini futures on the S&P 500 added 0.1 per cent after the underlying gauge on Tuesday slipped 0.2 percent.


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