Thursday, January 6, 2011

GLOBAL MARKETS-Dollar jumps, oil rebounds on big U.S. jobs gain

NEW YORK: The U.S. dollar jumped and crude oil prices rebounded on Wednesday, Jan 5 after surprisingly strong data on private-sector jobs added to growing evidence the U.S. economy is on the path to recovery.

Wall Street's early losses turned to gains and global equities pared most of their losses after ADP Employer Services reported that private-sector employers created nearly triple the number of jobs in December as markets had expected.

The dollar was on pace for its best one-day gain in more than three months against the Japanese yen, and oil prices rebounded on the news that U.S. private employers added 297,000 jobs in December.

The strong dollar initially pressured commodity prices, with copper prices tumbling from a record high on Tuesday and gold down in its biggest three-day slide since mid-November.

But oil prices later turned positive and copper pared most losses as the strong dollar, which had earlier dragged down crude oil further from 27-month highs, eased a bit.

The U.S. dollar index gained about 1 percent.

Stocks in Tokyo were poised to open higher, with the March futures contract that trades in Chicago for the Nikkei 225 up 110 points at 10,540.

The unexpectedly large jump in U.S. private-sector jobs drove down prices of U.S. Treasury securities as optimism over the economy fed a bid for riskier assets.

Investors now await U.S. nonfarm payrolls data for December that is due on Friday for further signs the U.S. economy is recovering more quickly than expected.

"Today's all about data reaction; you had a blowout ADP report," said Michael Cloherty, head of rates strategy at RBC Capital Markets in New York. "In general expectations have changed significantly for Friday's number."

A report from the Institute for Supply Management, an industry group, that its gauge of the massive U.S. services sector reached its highest level in over four years also helped U.S. stocks to rebound and global equities to trim losses.

ISM said its index of U.S. services sector activity rose to 57.1 in December, up from expectations of 55.6.

Financials led gains on Wall Street, helped by credit-card companies such as Capital One Finance Corp, whose shares rose 4.2 percent, and extended an equities rally in December that had sparked worries of having come too far, too fast.

The S&P consumer finance index, which includes major personal finance companies, gained 2. percent.

"The economy is clearly accelerating," said Edward Hemmelgarn, president of Shaker Investments in Cleveland. "It's difficult to make the case for the market to go down in the first six months of the year."

The Dow Jones industrial average closed up 31.71 points, or 0.27 percent, at 11,722.89. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index added 6.36 points, or 0.50 percent, at 1,276.56. The Nasdaq Composite Index gained 20.95 points, or 0.78 percent, at 2,702.20.

The euro slipped 1.12 percent to $1.3152 and against the yen, the dollar rose 1.50 percent to 83.26

Upbeat U.S. economic data and worries about the ability of certain euro zone countries to sell an abundance of debt has helped make the week so far a banner one for the dollar, and could lead it to outperform other major currencies.

"There is a large appetite for the dollar as it is being viewed as the growth currency of choice," said Andrew Wilkinson, senior market analyst at Interactive Brokers in Greenwich, Connecticut.

Treasuries prices fell on the strong data and some analysts see prices falling further as a brighter economic outlook dims the attraction of government debt, a traditional safe haven investment.

Treasury debt prices also took another leg down after the Federal Reserve bought the minimum $1.5 billion of its planned bond purchases for Wednesday.

Analysts said speculation that the Fed could curtail its $600 billion bond-buying program is likely unfounded after minutes released on Tuesday showed the U.S. central bank sees a "high bar" for stopping its second quantitative easing program.

The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note was down 33/32 in price to yield 3.47 percent.

Gold fell as the dollar surged and the strong jobs data dented safe-haven buying. But bullion ended off its lows as commodities rebounded on an improving economic outlook.

U.S. February gold futures settled down $5.10 at $1,373.70 an ounce.

U.S. light crude for February delivery ended up 92 cents at $90.30 a barrel. In London, ICE Brent crude for February delivery settled up $1.97 at $95.50.

Brent's premium to the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate surged above $5 a barrel, the highest in seven months.

European shares closed flat on Wednesday as the large increase in U.S. job creation was countered by the stronger dollar, which helped weaken metals prices and halt a rally in the mining sector.

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index of top shares rose 0.04 percent to close at 1,142.46 points, with the U.S. jobs data helping it climb off a day's low of 1,128.49.

Japan's Nikkei closed down nearly 0.2 percent after hitting a 7-1/2-month closing high on Tuesday. - Reuters

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