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April 1, 2011    

US jobs news helps European, New York equities markets

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by Elaine Frei
US jobs news helps European, New York equities markets

The news that the United States economy added 216,000 jobs in March and that the unemployment rate dropped to 8.8 percent helped European and US equities markets to gains Friday.

The number of jobs added was higher than the 185,000 that had been expected by analysts, but the news was tempered by a loss of 14,000 jobs during the month in the public sector and that the average hourly wage for US workers held steady at $22.87.

An alternative method of figuring the unemployment rate which takes into account those who have given up looking for work or who are working part-time when they would rather be working full-time also showed the unemployment rate down, but at 15.7 percent from last month’s 15.9 percent.

The official numbers from the Labor Department only take into account unemployed persons who are actively looking for work.

The FTSE 100 was up 1.71 percent to 6,009.92 in London, while the FTSE 250 was 1.01 percent higher to 11,708.7, with London banks leading gains after banks in Ireland were up despite a cut in Ireland’s credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, as the Bank of Ireland (ISEQ: BKIR) presented a plan to keep the Irish government from taking the bank over.

Miners, the energy sector and retailers were all mostly higher, while there was a broker upgrade in the food manufacturing sector and bids rumors among gambling companies.

Elsewhere in the region, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 was up 1.47 percent to 1,141.47 while the IBEX added 1.45 percent to 10,729.9, the CAC-40 was 1.64 percent higher to 4,054.76 and the Dax gained 1.97 percent to 7,179.81.

In New York, meanwhile, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 0.66 percent to 12,400.8 in early afternoon trade in New York, while the S&P 500 had added 0l74 percent to 1,355.6 and the Nasdaq Composite was 0.63 percent higher to 2,798.47..

Crude oil prices in New York and London were up nearly a dollar per barrel in the most recent reports, while metals prices had dropped by around 1:30 p.m. in New York.

Tokyo’s equities markets were lower on Friday on declines for some airlines and carmakers after oil prices were higher, while there were reports that the Japanese government may purchase a stake in Tokyo Electric Power.

The media report spurred speculation that Japan could nationalize the operator of the Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power facility, although the report said that it was not likely that the government would buy the over 50 percent stake necessary for nationalization.

The Nikkei 225 was 0.48 percent lower to 8,708.39 in Tokyo, while the Topix index was down 0.78 percent to 862.62 and the Mothers market dropped 0.8 percent to 456.55, with electricity utilities lower and some airlines and carmakers down on higher oil prices, but oil producers and refiners advanced as oil prices soared.

Also seeing declines in the region was India’s Sensex, which was 0.13 percent lower to 19,420.4, but most markets in the region were higher.

Taiwan’s Taiex added 0.25 percent to 8,705.13, while the Straits Times Index was up 0.47 percent to 3,120.47, Australia’s markets advanced as the S&P/ASX200 added 0.49 percent to 4,861.8 and the Sydney Ordinaries gained 0.53 percent to 4,954.6, the Kospi was up 0.68 percent to 2,121.91 in South Korea, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng added 1.17 percent to 23,801.9 and the Shanghai Composite was 1.34 percent higher to 2,967.41.

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