Bloomberg News

Japan Futures Little Changed as Investors Await U.S. Jobs Report

February 02, 2012

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese stock futures and Australian equities were little changed as investors waited on monthly U.S. employment data to gauge the strength of the recovery in the world’s largest economy.

American depositary receipts of Canon Inc., the world’s biggest camera maker, rose 1.5 percent from the closing price in Tokyo after announcing a buyback of shares. Mazda Motor Corp. may fall after the carmaker widened its forecast for a loss. Softbank Corp., Japan’s No. 3 wireless carrier, may be active after saying nine-month profit jumped 76 percent. Lynas Corp. fell 3.5 percent in Sydney after Goldman Sachs Group cut price estimates for rare-earth metals.

“Investors are unlikely to buy or sell today ahead of the U.S. job report,” said Juichi Wako, a senior strategist at Tokyo-based Nomura Holdings Inc. “Market expectations for the employment report are high.”

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in March closed at 8,865 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 8,870 in Osaka, Japan. They were bid in the pre-market at 8,860 in Osaka at 8:05 a.m. local time. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.1 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index rose 0.1 percent in Wellington.

U.S. Jobs Data

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index were little changed today. The index added 0.1 percent in New York yesterday, ahead of today’s report, which analysts expect will show employers boosted payrolls by 140,000 workers last month with the jobless rate held at an almost three-year low of 8.5 percent, according to median estimates in a Bloomberg survey.

Data yesterday showed that claims for U.S. jobless benefits fell last week and productivity cooled in the fourth quarter, signaling hiring may accelerate as companies reach the limits of how much efficiency they can wring from existing work forces.

Oil fell 1.3 percent to a six-week low of $96.36 a barrel in New York yesterday as demand tumbled. Futures fell for a fifth day after the Energy Department reported on Feb. 1 that supplies rose to a three-month high last week. Fuel use dropped 8.3 percent to 17.7 million barrels a day, the lowest since 1999. Tension over Iran’s nuclear program may ease after UN inspectors announced more talks in Tehran.

The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six industrial commodities including copper and aluminum lost 1.6 percent yesterday, the biggest drop in a month.

Chinese Internet Stocks

The Bloomberg China-US 55 Index of the most-traded Chinese equities in the U.S rose 0.6 percent to 105.61 in New York yesterday, the highest since Sept. 1. Renren Inc. led a rally in Chinese Internet stocks traded in the U.S. as Facebook Inc.’s initial public offering plans lure investors to similar companies in the world’s fastest-growing major economy.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 9.4 percent this year through yesterday, compared with increases of 5.4 percent by the S&P 500 and 6.4 percent by the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 1.3 times book value. That compares with 2.2 times for the S&P 500 in the U.S. and 1.5 times for the Europe Stoxx 600.

--Editor: Jim Powell.

To contact the reporters on this story: Norie Kuboyama in Tokyo at nkuboyama@bloomberg.net; Masaaki Iwamoto in Tokyo at miwamoto4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nick Gentle at ngentle2@bloomberg.net


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