Asian Stocks Rise After US Unemployment Falls

Published February 6, 2012 3:00AM (EST)

BANGKOK (AP) — Asian stock markets climbed Monday after U.S. unemployment fell to its lowest in three years, suggesting a stronger recovery in the world's No. 1 economy that could benefit the region's exporters.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index rose 1.1 percent to 8,924.98. South Korea's Kospi gained 0.2 percent to 1,976.93 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng was 0.5 percent higher at 20,867.92.

Australia's S&P ASX/200 added 1.1 percent to 4,296.80, while benchmarks in Singapore and the Philippines also rose. Mainland Chinese shares and Taiwan's main index fell.

On Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average was propelled to its highest close since May 2008 after the U.S. Labor Department said the economy added 243,000 new jobs in January, the strongest job growth in nine months.

That helped to push the unemployment rate down to 8.3 percent and the number of unemployed down to 12.8 million.

Noting that a similar gain occurred in April 2010, only to be followed by a negative trend, analysts at DBS in Singapore said, "Stay optimistic but keep a few grains of salt close at hand."

Falling unemployment in the U.S. is likely to be good news for Asia, as it suggests stronger consumer demand for the region's exports of clothing, cars, consumer electronics and other goods.

The Dow rose 1.2 percent to close at 12,862.23, its highest mark since May 19, 2008, about four months before Lehman Brothers investment bank collapsed.

The Standard & Poor's 500 added 1.3 percent to 1,344.90, its highest close since last July. The Nasdaq Composite added 1.6 percent, to 2,905.66, its highest since December 2000.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was down 30 cents to $97.52 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.48 to finish at $97.84 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3093 from $1.3153 late Friday in New York. The dollar rose to 76.53 yen from 76.55 yen.

By Salon Staff

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