Stock market divide: Asia down, Europe up
Stock market indexes in Asia close lower on bad news out of Europe. But European stock market indexes rise on hopes for stronger US job data.
European stocks rose on Friday as investors set aside concerns about the euro's debt crisis to focus on the impending release of monthly U.S. jobs data, which many hope will confirm a mild recovery in the world's largest economy.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Asian market indexes closed lower as they reacted to poor economic and financial indicators out of Europe the previous day. That stream of poor European data continued on Friday, with new information showing a drop in retail sales and economic sentiment among consumers and businesses. Unemployment in the 17-nation eurozone, meanwhile, remained at a worrying 10.3 percent.
Traders expect 2012 to be a tough one for Europe, as it slides back toward recession, and appeared relieved to have more upbeat U.S. economic indicators to focus on Friday.
Analysts are projecting hiring gains of about 150,000 when the U.S. Labor Department issues the December jobs report. That would mark a six-month stretch in which the economy generated 100,000 jobs or more in each month. Expectations of the data rose on Thursday, when the private payrolls agency ADP said its own calculations for hiring gains were much stronger than forecast.
An improvement in the U.S. labor market is crucial for global markets because American consumer spending accounts for a fifth of the world's economic activity. A recovery in the U.S. would also mitigate the impact of the sharp slowdown in Europe.
Britain's FTSE 100 rose 0.4 percent to 5,644.55, while Germany's DAX rose 0.6 percent to 6,131.25. France's CAC-40 rose 0.8 percent to 3,170.85. Ahead of the opening bell on Wall Street, Dow Jones futures rose almost 0.1 percent to 12,334 and S&P 500 futures gained 0.1 percent to 1,274.50.
Although upbeat U.S. data could push stocks higher, gains were likely to be limited by the lingering fears about Europe's debt crisis. Italy's benchmark 10-year bond yield edged further above 7 percent, a borrowing rate that is considered unsustainable over the longer term.
Italy, along with many other European governments, has to roll over huge amounts of debt in coming months. It is trying to restore investor confidence in its public finances to get those bond yields down and pay lower rates when it auctions its bonds to raise cash from capital markets.
Banks, meanwhile, are hurting due to fears that they will take big losses on their holdings of government debt and will struggle to raise new cash to plug those holes.