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U.S. stocks ended the short trading week higher on Thursday as investors digested weekly data on the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits, while looking to Friday’s jobs report for signs of a slowing economy and the future of the Federal Reserve’s interest rate policy. The Dow industrials rose 0.6% for the week, while the S&P 500 shed 0.1% and the Nasdaq slumped 1.1%, after scoring its best quarter since 2020, according to Dow Jones Market Data.
The U.S. stock market remained closed on Friday, April 7, in observance of Good Friday.
Jobless Claims Fall, But Recession Looms
During the seven days ended April 1, new jobless claims fell to 228,000 from a revised 246,000 in the prior week. The data showed claims topping the 200,000 level for the ninth week in a row, after changes to the seasonal adjustment formula.
Bloomberg Economics’ recession-probability model, which relies on 13 indicators, sees a 97% chance of recession occurring in the US as soon as July, up from 76% in the previous update – and that’s even before factoring in fallout from the banking crisis and oil-price shock. The 12-month-ahead recession probability remains at 100%.
Indian Cabinet Committee Approves Natural Gas Pricing Mechanism
The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs on April 6 approved a mechanism to fix pricing for domestic natural gas in India. Domestic gas pricing will now be linked to imported crude pricing and would be decided at 10 percent of the Indian crude basket and will be revised on a monthly basis. The formula will include a floor and ceiling for the gas pricing at $4 and $6.5, respectively. This ceiling, will be kept in force for the next two years. Gas produced from new wells or well interventions in the nomination fields of ONGC and OIL, would be allowed a premium of 20 percent over the Administered Price Mechanism (APM price).
Asian Markets Trading Higher Amid Positive US Jobs Data
Stocks in Asia traded higher on Friday in a muted session as most markets are closed for a holiday in the wider Asia-Pacific region. The Nikkei 225 in Japan traded up 0.17% to close at 27,518 and the Topix gained 0.21% to close at 1,965.44. In South Korea, the Kospi gained 1.27% to 2,490.41 and the Kosdaq rose 1.67% to end the session at 880.07. In mainland China, the Shanghai Composite was 0.45% higher to 3,327.65 and the Shenzhen Component rose 0.86% to 11,967.74. Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore and India were closed.
US Nonfarm Payrolls Increase Amid Tight Labor Market
Nonfarm payrolls in the US increased by 236,000 jobs last month, the Labor Department said, compared with the 239,000 expectation of economists surveyed by Reuters. Data for February was revised higher to show 326,000 jobs were added instead of 311,000 as previously reported. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5% from 3.6% in the prior month.
Asian Markets See Further Gains Amid Tight Labor Market
Asian markets saw further gains on Monday as the US jobs data highlighted a tight labor market, leading to expectations that the Federal Reserve will once again raise interest rates at its upcoming meeting. The positive sentiment was tempered by Chinese military drills around Taiwan, following the island’s president visiting the US. The Easter holidays also kept trading closed on Monday in Hong Kong, Australia, and New Zealand, along with most of Europe.
In India, the benchmark Nifty ended in the positive on April 6 after a volatile session as the RBI’s Monetary Policy Committee decided to keep the benchmark repo rate unchanged. At close, Nifty was up 0.24% or 42.1 points at 17599.2. On a weekly basis, Nifty closed higher for the second week in a row rising 1.38% over the week. It has built on the gains of the previous week helped by positive global cues. Nifty has closed above the downgap made on March 10 at 17574. Nifty could rise some more towards 17800 over the next few sessions while 17428 could offer support.
Overall, the current economic environment is still uncertain, and the markets will continue to react to any new developments. As investors await further economic indicators and government policies, they will have to remain vigilant and adjust their investment strategies accordingly.