February 3, 2017 / 2:27 PM / a year ago

GLOBAL-MARKETS-Stocks up, dollar off highs after strong U.S. jobs data

* Dollar up slightly, poised for fourth week of losses

* U.S. payrolls ahead of estimates, hourly earnings fall

* No “Trump fatigue” in investment flows: BAML

* China unexpectedly tightens policy

* Broadly healthier corporate earnings help stocks

By Vikram Subhedar

LONDON, Feb 3 (Reuters) - The dollar headed for its fourth straight weekly loss as stocks rose after better-than-expected U.S. payrolls data masked underlying weakness in wage growth that may keep the Federal Reserve from raising interest rates next week.

Futures on Wall Street rose 0.5 percent to session highs while European stocks extended earlier gains and were trading up 0.8 percent.

Earlier in the day, an unexpected tightening of policy by China’s central bank put Asian markets, already on the back foot on growing concerns about U.S. President Donald Trump’s aggressive policies, under further pressure.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 227,000 jobs last month, the largest gain in four months, the U.S. Labor Department said on Friday. But the unemployment rate rose one-tenth of a percentage point to 4.8 percent and wages increased modestly, suggesting that there was still some slack in the labor market.

The focus now shifts to next week’s U.S. Federal Reserve rate decision.

“Continued strong job creation is tempered by the renewed sluggishness in wage growth, raising questions once again about the extent to which the functioning of the labor market has evolved. The sluggish wage growth will make the Fed more cautious about hiking in March,” said Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz.

The dollar pared some of its earlier gains against a basket of six major currencies, with the dollar index up 0.1 percent and below the 100 mark.


“The next hurdle for the USD to overcome is the Fed,” analysts at Morgan Stanley, led by strategist Hans Redekker, said in a note to clients, adding, however, that conditions for a resumption of the dollar to resume its rally have improved.

Reiterations of continued loose monetary policy in Europe, the Bank of Japan’s commitment to control the JGB yield curve and weaker yuan fixings by the People’s Bank of China are “three pluses” for the U.S. dollar, Morgan Stanley said.

Also, in FX markets sterling steadied after its worst fall since October, while the euro was set for its sixth week of gains in seven, at $1.0745 and having gone as high as $1.0829 after the latest signs that growth and inflation are rising in the euro zone.

The rally in risk assets following the U.S. presidential election has faded in recent weeks in what Bank of America-Merrill Lynch (BAML) called “Trump fatigue”. However, the broker noted that fund flows continued to point to broadly bullish sentiment.

Gauges of market volatility, such as the VIX, point to little concern over risks arising from Trump’s approach to foreign and trade policy and investors pumped more money into equities, company debt and emerging markets over the past week, BAML said, citing data from fund tracker EPFR.

“(The) VIX in DC higher than VIX on Wall St,” analysts at BAML wrote in a note.

Oil prices edged up after U.S. threats of new sanctions against Iran. Comments by Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak that oil producers have cut their output in accordance with a pact agreed in December also helped to support prices.

Brent crude futures were up 21 cents, or 0.4 percent, to $56.76 a barrel. Brent is set to gain more than 2 percent for the week.

Front-month U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures climbed 15 cents, or 0.3 percent, to $53.69 a barrel.

London copper fell, however, after China’s tightening of policy spooked metals markets. (Additional reporting by the Americas markets desk; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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