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It’s the first Friday of the month, and so markets are in thrall to US jobs data.
Equities markets in Europe are tracking another cautious session on Wall Street and a lacklustre showing in Asia ahead of Friday’s main event: The release of US employment data for January. Due out at 1.30pm London time, it is expected to show the addition of 180,000 jobs and a steady unemployment rate of 4.7 per cent.
In the meantime, European equities are in neutral. London’s FTSE 100 is flat, while the Xetra Dax 30 is ticking 0.1 per cent higher.
The dollar is finding some support in the run-up to the jobs data, after its recent move lower looks to have gone far enough to draw in buyers, taking the index tracking the world’s reserve currency up 0.1 per cent on at 99.863, modestly above Thursday’s a two-and-a-half month low.
The yen is 0.3 per cent weaker at ¥113.11 per dollar in a volatile session. The currency see-sawed as the Bank of Japan announced it would buy an unlimited amount of bonds at a fixed yield on Friday.
The euro is unchanged at $1.0756 and sterling is flat at $1.2522, as traders sit on their hands in the final run-up to the US jobs data. Against the euro, the pound is 0.1 per cent weaker, with £0.8590 required for a unit of the shared currency.
Chinese markets opened for the first time in a week as the lunar new year public holiday ended. The Shanghai Composite is down 0.6 per cent, while the technology-focused Shenzhen Composite is off by 0.4 per cent.
Hong Kong’s Hang Seng, which has been trading since Wednesday, is off 0.2 per cent lower.
Japan’s Topix is up 0.3 per cent as the Bank of Japan’s efforts to rein in bond yields helped weaken the yen.
Oil markets are firmer, with Brent crude, the international benchmark, up 0.8 per cent at $57.01 a barrel and West Texas Intermediate up 0.9 per cent at $54.00. Gold is down 0.2 per cent at $1,214.45 an ounce.
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