NEW YORK (AP) — Stocks are starting the second quarter with slight gains after the government reported another month of robust hiring. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq composite are heading toward gains for the week; the Dow Jones Industrial Average is also up Friday but still on track for a weekly decline. A resurgence of Russian attacks dashed hopes for a cessation of widespread violence in Ukraine. The Labor Department said the U.S. added 431,000 jobs last month, a resilient showing amid the highest inflation in four decades. U.S. crude oil dipped below $100 a barrel. Shares in Asia were mixed, while European benchmarks gained. Treasury yields are rising.
Wall Street is poised to open higher Friday after the government reported another month of robust hiring in the U.S., while a resurgence in Russian attacks dashed hopes for a cessation of widespread violence in Ukraine.
Futures for the Dow industrials and S&P 500 rose 0.5% in premarket trading and prices for U.S. crude oil dipped below $100 per barrel. Shares in Asia were mixed, while European benchmarks gained.
The U.S. economy added another 431,000 jobs in March, a sign of the economy’s resilience in the face of a still-destructive pandemic and the highest inflation in 40 years. The Labor Department’s report Friday showed that last month’s job growth helped reduce the unemployment rate to 3.6%, the lowest level since the pandemic erupted two years ago.
Despite surging inflation, the U.S. economy has cranked out more than 400,000 jobs every month for nearly a year.
Shares in Europe rose despite a report that consumer prices in the 19 countries that use the euro currency rose by an annual rate of 7.5% in March, the fifth straight monthly record. Spiking energy costs are the main factor driving inflation in Europe, with those prices surging 44.7% last month, up from 32% in February, Eurostat said.
Oil and gas prices had already been rising because of increasing demand from economies recovering from the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic. They jumped higher after Russia, a major oil and gas producer, invaded Ukraine, on fears that sanctions and export restrictions could crimp supplies.
Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.4%, Germany’s DAX rose 0.5% and France’s CAC 40 added nearly 0.6% in midday trading.
In Asia, Bank of Japan’s closely watched quarterly gauge of business sector sentiment, the “tankan,” showed the benchmark indicator for large manufacturers dropped for the first time in seven quarters, losing three points from a survey in December to 14 points from 17 points.
The war in Ukraine, coming on top of supply chain disruptions at top manufacturers caused by COVID-19 restrictions and growing worries about inflation are clouding the outlook for already fragile growth in the world’s third-largest economy.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 slipped 0.6% to finish at 27,665.98.
Shares in electronics and energy giant Toshiba Corp. jumped 6.5% on news that Bain Capital might make an offer to acquire the company and take it private. Toshiba said it was not involved in any such talks.
South Korea’s Kospi lost 0.7% to 2,739.85. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 edged down less than 0.1% to 7,493.80. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng rose 0.2% to 22,039.55, while the Shanghai Composite jumped 0.9% to 3,282.72.
Rising COVID-19 cases in China are adding to the worries of a regional slowdown. The lockdown in Shanghai entered its second phase of extended restrictions, while restrictions were lifted in hard-hit Jilin.
Oil prices fell as President Joe Biden ordered the release of up to 1 million barrels of oil per day from the nation’s strategic petroleum reserve. The move to pump more oil into the market is part of an effort to control energy prices, which are up nearly 40% globally this year.
U.S. benchmark crude fell $1.70 to $98.58 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell 7% on Thursday. Brent, the international pricing standard, shed $1.54 to $103.17 a barrel.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 122.48 Japanese yen from 121.69 yen. The euro cost $1.1053, down from $1.1071.