AP News

Markets unmoved by upbeat US jobs news


LONDON (AP) — Stronger than expected U.S. jobs figures in the run-up to next week's presidential election failed to boost financial markets on Friday.

The Labor Department reported that the U.S. economy generated 171,000 jobs in October, higher than the 125,000 or so expected in the markets. The unemployment rate, which is based on a separate survey, rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent, but that was in line with predictions.

The last major economic news release before the election gave President Barack Obama ammunition for the final days of the presidential campaign, experts say. But because many investors would prefer a victory by Romney, who is focused on tax cuts that would favor them, stock markets did not rise.

"The data is clearly risk positive, although some may argue that it hurts Romney's chances, which neutralizes some of the risk impact," said Alan Ruskin, an analyst at Deutsche Bank.

In Europe, Germany's DAX was up 0.2 percent at 7,353 while the CAC-40 in France rose 0.1 percent to 3,479. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was down 0.1 percent at 5,856.

In the U.S., the Dow Jones industrial average was 0.3 percent lower at 13,196 while the broader S&P 500 index was flat at 1,427.

Elsewhere, the dollar garnered further strength after the data, especially against the euro, which was weighed down by poor manufacturing figures for the 17-country eurozone. By midafternoon London time, the euro was 0.8 percent lower at $1.2843.

The fall in the October purchasing managers index — a gauge of business activity — fell to 45.4 in October from 46.1 in September. Anything below 50 indicates a contraction in activity. Particularly worrying was that most of the euro countries are seeing their manufacturing sectors contract, including Germany and France.

The euro is also being weighed down by worries over Greece, with signs that the coalition government is fracturing ahead of a parliamentary vote next week on a €13.5 billion package of spending cuts and tax increases that are required by international creditors in return for giving the country more bailout cash.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras has said the country will start running out of money by the middle of the month, so the clock is ticking.

"It all looks very fragile," said Neil MacKinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

Earlier in Asia, Japan's Nikkei 225 index advanced 1.2 percent to close at 9,051.22. Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose 1.3 percent to 22,111.33 and South Korea's Kospi gained 1.1 percent to 1,918.72.

Oil prices gave up most of the previous session's gains — benchmark oil for December delivery fell 50 cents to $86.59 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.


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