Stocks skip higher ahead of U.S. jobs dataStocks skip higher ahead of U.S. jobs data
A man wearing a protective face mask talks on his mobile phone in front of a screen showing the Nikkei index in Tokyo

By Marc Jones

LONDON (Reuters) – World stocks rose for a fourth straight day on Thursday as encouraging coronavirus vaccine trials kept investors’ spirits up ahead of what was expected to be a record rebound in U.S. jobs figures later.

Economists polled by Reuters expect a bumper 3 million U.S. jobs to have been added in June on top of the 2.5 million created in May, and some generally reassuring data from both Asia and Europe this week.

Despite the ongoing rise in global virus cases, Asian equity markets saw their biggest daily rise in over two weeks overnight, aided by news that a vaccine being trialled by Pfizer <PFE.N> and Germany’s BioNTech <BNTX.O> had been well tolerated in early-stage human tests.

Europe made a strong start, with banking, travel and carmaker stocks driving 1-2% gains for its main bourses, and the euro helped back up towards $1.13 by another drop in the dollar.

“The big thing today is the U.S. non-farm payrolls… but by and large risk has been bid and the dollar has been weakening,” said RBC FX strategist Alvin Tan.

“What has really helped sentiment (in the last 24 hours) has been some of the preliminary results on a vaccine”.

A vaccine for COVID-19, which has now killed more than half a million people globally and sent the world economy into deep recession, has been long anticipated.

In a sign the positive sentiment will extend, E-minis for S&P500 <ESc1> rose 0.8%, while bond markets were also favouring risk over safety.

The 10-year Germany Bund yield broke above -0.4% for the first time in a week in its biggest daily jump in a month after improved euro zone manufacturing data the previous day, while Portugal’s borrowing costs hit a 3-month low.

All major Asian indexes had been upbeat. Japan’s Nikkei <.N225> rose only fractionally, but China’s blue-chip index <.CSI300> added 2% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng <.HSI> jumped 2.8% as investors brushed off concerns over sweeping new security laws introduced by Beijing.


Attention was quickly turning to the U.S. employment figures later that will feed debate on whether the world’s largest economy can sustain its fragile recovery in the face of rising COVID-19 cases in some key parts of the country.

“A better-than-expected outcome could go some way to settling the near-term debate that the U.S. labor market will heal relatively quickly and justify new highs in U.S. equities,” said Stephen Innes, strategist at AxiCorp.

In commodities, the most-traded August copper contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange <SCFcv1> touched 49,570 yuan ($7,016.28) a tonne, its highest of the year.

Top copper consumer China posted better-than-expected manufacturing data in June, while U.S. manufacturing activity rebounded and the factory sector in Germany contracted at a slower pace.

In Chile, where the number of COVID-19 cases have been climbing, miner BHP <BHP.AX> said it would begin to slow production at its small Cerro Colorado copper mine.

Oil prices climbed and gold eased as encouraging macro data prompted investors to take on more risk.

Brent crude <LCOc1> climbed 30 cents to $42.37 a barrel. U.S. crude <CLc1> rose 35 cents to $40.17 a barrel. U.S. gold futures <GCcv1> were 0.21% lower, at $1,776.20.

The dollar was largely unchanged against the Japanese yen at 107.45. The euro was higher at $1.1293, sterling <GBP=> rose to $1.2520 and the risk-sensitive Australian and New Zealand dollars <AUD=D3> <NZD=D3> were 0.3% and 0.5% stronger respectively.

(Additional reporting by Swati Pandey in Sydney; Editing by Jan Harvey)