World stocks cling to gains, bonds hover ahead of U.S. payrolls

Investors monitor stock market prices in Kuala Lumpur
Investors monitor stock market prices in Kuala Lumpur Reuters

World stocks clung to their 17-month highs on Friday and bonds paused after this week's rally ahead of U.S. jobs data, a gauge that could stoke or temper market expectations about aggressive policy easing by the Federal Reserve.

Trade across global markets was expected to remain subdued following the Independence Day holiday in the United States on Thursday and ahead of the non-farm payrolls report.

Though European bourses suffered with the pan-region STOXX 600 slipping 0.3%, dragged lower by the basic resource .SXPP and industrial goods & services sectors .SXNP which both fell more than 1.5%.

The losses came after German data showed industrial orders had fallen far more than expected in May, and a warning from the economy ministry this sector of Europe's largest economy was likely to remain weak in the coming months.

A sharp drop in China iron ore futures hit miners.

Technology shares .SX8P retreated 0.9% after Samsung's (005930.KS) dour forecast showed the impact of U.S.-China trade war on global chip and smartphone markets, sending Infineon (IFXGn.DE), STMicroelectronics (STM.MI) and Siltronic (WAFGn.DE) as much as 1.5% lower.

U.S. futures pointed to a softer opening for Wall Street as well with E-Minis for the S&P500 ESc1 at -0.1%.

"Devastating new orders data just undermined any hopes for an industrial rebound. We are starting to lose our optimism," said Carsten Brzeski, chief economist at ING Germany.

"Combined with the weakest June performance of the labour market since 2002 and disappointing retail sales, today's new orders wrap up a week to forget for the German economy. The fear factor is back."

The losses in Europe followed gains in Asia, where MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares ex-Japan was set for its fifth straight weekly rise. Japan's Nikkei .N225 added 0.2%. Chinese shares were slightly higher with the blue-chip index .CSI300 up 0.5%.

World stocks and bonds have rallied since June on hopes global central banks will keep policy easy to support growth. A ceasefire in the protracted Sino-U.S. trade war has also bolstered sentiment.

All eyes were now on U.S. non-farm payrolls, due later in the day, which are expected to have jumped by 160,000 in June compared with 75,000 in May.

"This will be the last employment report before the FOMC meeting at the end of this month for which markets are pricing in 33 basis points of cuts as of this morning," Deutsche Bank's Craig Nicol wrote in a note to clients.

Fed futures are fully pricing in a 25-basis-point cut when the Fed meets on July 30-31. Investors also see a 25% chance of a 50-basis-point reduction.

"What today's report says about the trends in hiring and income growth could meaningfully impact market expectations so expect there to be just as much focus on hours and wages as the headline payrolls reading."

The Fed would not be alone in embarking on easier monetary policy. Prospects of global easing have sent government bond yields to multi-year lows around the world.

U.S. 10-year Treasuries yields hit their lowest since November 2016 at 1.941%.

Germany's 10-year government bond yield, a benchmark for euro zone debt, fell to minus 0.4% and breached the European Central Bank's deposit rate for the first time - a level analysts say acts as a psychological barrier even though shorter-dated German bond yields trade well below it.

The easing bund yields dragged the euro EUR= 0.1% lower to $1.1273 with the common currency on track for the biggest weekly drop in three weeks.

The dollar index .DXY was steady at 96.823 though on track for a 0.8% gain this week. Against the Japanese yen JPY=, the dollar gained 0.2% to 108.04.

Worries about the health of the global economy also weighed on commodity markets. Oil prices eased with Brent crude futures LCOc1, the international benchmark for oil prices, off 30 cents at $63.00 per barrel while U.S. crude CLc1 slipped 85 cents to $56.49.

Crude markets shrugging off tensions around Iran and a decision by OPEC and its allies to extend a supply cut deal until next year was an ominous sign to market watchers.

"When bullish signals fail to lift the oil market's spirits, we should be very concerned this downtrend could run much further than expected," said Stephen Innes, managing partner at Vanguard Markets.

China iron ore futures racked up sharp losses after hitting a record on Wednesday. China's most-active September iron ore contract on the Dalian Commodity Exchange DCIOcv1 fell as much as 4.9% to 838 yuan ($121.89) a tonne.