Asian shares have responded to a bullish European/U.S. session with the regional benchmark index paring its sixth straight weekly loss, on the back of encouraging U.S. jobs data and better than expected company earnings. The MSCI Asia-Pacific gauge dropped 4.6 percent in January in what was its worst start to a year since 2009 amid several contributing factors including; Federal Reserve tapering bond purchases, concerns about China’s economic slowdown and volatility in developing markets. About $2.3 trillion has been wiped from the value of stocks worldwide this year as of yesterday.
Initial jobless claims dropped for the first time in three weeks, falling 20,000 to 331,000 in the period ending February 1st. The Labor Department may report today that U.S. nonfarm payrolls grew by 180,000 last month after a 74,000 gain in December. For many investors who have been expecting the developed economies, especially the United States, to lead the global economy this year, solid evidence of strong U.S. job growth is vital to maintain conviction. Additionally, earnings from Walt Disney Co. to Akamai Technologies Inc. surpassed estimates.
Relative calm in vulnerable emerging markets over recent days also helped to ease worries some emerging economies might suffer harsh downturns if capital flight continues. Battered currencies such as the Turkish lira and the South African rand are trading off their recent lows.
The euro held near a one-week high against the dollar after European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said on Thursday that the euro zone was not plagued by deflation. He did, however, caution that the currency bloc’s economy remained skewed to the downside and put markets on alert for a possible rate move in March, acknowledging that emerging-market turbulence could hit the euro zone.