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Stocks in Asia rally after US jobs; yen in focus

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Asian stocks gained as trade-war concerns took a backseat to economic optimism following a U.S. jobs report Friday that showed the American economy continued to strengthen without the prior month’s rapid wage gains that stoked inflation fears.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index of stocks climbed, with markets from Tokyo to Sydney higher. The S&P 500 Index rose Friday and the Nasdaq Composite Index soared to a fresh record high after U.S. non-farm payrolls data topped forecasts. The yen was in focus thanks to political concerns surrounding Japan’s Finance Ministry, run by a stalwart ally of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose administration has endorsed a weak currency. The yen came off its highs when the minister, Taro Aso, said he’s not resigning.

Strong economic indicators have bolstered the Federal Reserve’s case for higher interest rates and given fresh impetus to the bull market in global equities that’s now nine years old. A slew of data out of China this week and readings on U.S. inflation and retail sales could provide more insight into the strength of global growth. Appetite for risk assets was boosted at the end of last week as U.S. President Donald Trump accepted an invitation to meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the narrower-than-expected tariff plan from the White House eased speculation of a trade war.

In Japan, debate is emerging over the political future of Aso, after his ministry altered documents tied to a controversial land sale. Aso has been Abe’s deputy since he took office in December 2012, and is seen as a key backer of the Abenomics program. Aso in a press briefing Monday declined to comment on his responsibility, but said he wasn’t thinking of resigning.

Elsewhere, Bitcoin climbed back toward $10,000 after sliding 18 percent last week. Crude oil traded nudged higher above $62 a barrel after last week’s advance.

Here’s what’s coming up this week:

China data on industrial production, retail sales and fixed-asset investment all out on Wednesday are likely to point to slower growth, according to Bloomberg Economics forecasts. Retail sales probably rose 10 percent from a year earlier, while industrial production growth is expected to have slowed to 6.2 percent. Key indicators for the Fed dominate the economic agenda in the coming week. Headline inflation may have edged up to 2.2 percent in February from 2.1 percent, though consensus before Tuesday’s report is for core inflation to remain at 1.8 percent. The other main data point will be Wednesday’s retail sales numbers, which are expected to show a significant rebound from weather-induced declines in January. New Zealand GDP data is out Thursday.

These are the main moves in markets:

Stocks

The Topix index gained 1.4 percent and the Nikkei 225 Stock Average jumped 1.4 percent as of 2:15 p.m. in Tokyo. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.6 percent. The Kospi index in Seoul gained 1 percent. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index advanced 1.5 percent. The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.6 percent. S&P 500 Index futures rose 0.4 percent. The underlying gauge jumped 1.7 percent Friday. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 1.5 percent.

Currencies

The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index fell 0.1 percent. The yen rose 0.3 percent to 106.55 per dollar. The Aussie dollar gained 0.3 percent to 78.69 U.S. cents, its highest in about two weeks, after Australia was exempted from U.S. metal tariffs. The euro added 0.1 percent to $1.2321. The pound was little changed at $1.3858.

Bonds

The yield on 10-year Treasuries rose almost one basis point to 2.90 percent, extending a four basis point advance on Friday. Australia’s 10-year bond yield rose about four basis points to 2.82 percent.

Commodities

West Texas Intermediate crude was little changed at $62.05 a barrel. It climbed 3.2 percent on Friday. Gold was little changed at $1,323.46 an ounce. — Bloomberg