Slow US job figures hinder shares: Morning market insights

The New York Stock Exchange fell at the long weekend after a US Labor Department report showed employers added fewer jobs than forecast in March.

Leading up to Easter, the Standard & Poor’s 500 had its worst week of 2012. It fell again overnight, with Wall Street one of the few major stock markets trading on Easter Monday.

“At the moment, the one big news story that people have to focus on is the jobs number so there’s a focus on the disappointment there,” John Carey, who helps oversee about $220 billion at Pioneer Investments, told Bloomberg.

“The economy does continue to grow, but slowly, and I think that’s been the source of frustration for a lot of investors – that we haven’t had the big forward movement in the economy like we have in the past.”

The S&P500 Index fell 1.14% to 1382.20 overnight. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 1.00%, or 130.55 points, to 12929.60.

The NASDAQ Index lost 1.08% or 33.42 points to 3047.08.

Facebook (FB: US) revealed plans to list its shares on the Nasdaq Stock Market, further cementing the exchange’s position as the best place for US technology companies, according to Bloomberg.

“People are asking about what it means for NYSE to lose it, but it was critical for Nasdaq to win,” Richard Repetto, an analyst at Sandler O’Neill & Partners in New York, told Bloomberg. “What it does is it keeps the momentum and likely leads to further IPOs in the future. Whatever brand Facebook attracts, whether it’s tech or social media, it likely helps Nasdaq’s cause in the future.”

The Nasdaq lists seven of the 10 biggest US technology companies, including Apple (AAPL: US), Microsoft (MSFT: US), Google (GOOG: US) and Intel (INTC: US). The NYSE is still the venue for International Business Machines (IBM: US).

West Texas Intermediate (WTI) oil fell 0.82% to $US102.46 a barrel overnight.

Gold was up 0.85% to be trading at $US1643.90 an ounce.

The Australian dollar was slightly up over the long weekend, buying $US1.0306 at 8.15am AEST as weaker US job figures hurt the US currency.

Europe

European share markets were down or leading up to Easter. They were closed overnight for the Easter Monday holiday. National benchmark indexes fell in nine of the 15 western European markets trading on Thursday night. France’s CAC 40 Index was flat, adding 0.2%.

UK 10-year government bonds gained for a third week as demand for Spanish and Italian bonds fell, fuelling concerns Europe’s debt crisis is spreading. Demand was boosted for the safer UK government bonds known as ‘UK gilts’.

“Safe-haven flows have resumed and gilts have benefited from that,” said Nick Stamenkovic, a fixed-income strategist at RIA Capital Markets in Edinburgh.

“Equities had a very good performance in the first quarter and the second has started on a bumpy note.”

The British pound rose to a 12-week high versus the euro on Thursday. A report showed UK manufacturing declined. The Bank of England kept its benchmark interest rate at 0.5%.

The London FTSE 100 closed up 0.35% before Easter to 5723.67.

The German DAX was down 0.13% to 6775.54. The European Stoxx50 index was down 0.25% to 2392.54.

In London, Sky Broadcasting (BSY: LN) lost 3.42% to 635.5 GB pence.

The UK’s benchmark FTSE 100 Index of stocks slipped 0.8% in the holiday-shortened week before Easter, after gaining 3.5% in the first quarter of 2012.

Spain

Spain’s 10-year yield rose as much as 15 basis points to 5.84% before the Easter break. The rise was the highest since December 13.

Italy’s 10-year yields rose to 5.44%, while France’s 10-year bonds also slid in value after borrowing costs increased when the nation sold 8.4 billion euros of debt.

Asia

Asian markets fell yesterday on the back of disappointing US job numbers. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index dropped 0.6% to 124.16. South Korea’s Kospi Index slid 1.6% with heightened tension on the Korean peninsula.

The Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.9%. The Taiwan Taiex Index was down 1.4%, while Singapore’s Straits Times Index lost 1%. The BSE India Sensitive Index fell 1.2%.

The Japanese yen rose to its highest level since the first week of March, hurting the stocks of Japanese exporters.

Japan’s NIKKEI 225 closed down 1.47% to 9546.26.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng was shut on Easter Monday as was New Zealand, Thailand and the Philippines.

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