Japan Stock Futures Gain as Yen Falls on U.S. Jobs, Stimulus

Japanese stock futures rose as faster-than-forecast jobs growth in the U.S. boosted investor optimism in the global recovery and as the yen weakened amid speculation the Bank of Japan will increase monetary easing.

Futures on the Nikkei 225 Stock Average gained 0.6 percent from the March 8 close. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures fell 0.1 percent with the equity cash gauge less than 1 percent below the record of 1,565.15 reached in October 2007. The yen dropped to 96.15 per dollar, having touched the lowest level since August 2009 on March 8. New Zealand’s NZX 500 Index gained 0.2 percent and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index rose 0.1 percent.

U.S. employers added 236,000 jobs in February and hiring in construction jumped by the most in almost six years. China’s industrial output had the weakest start to a year since 2009 and lending and retail sales growth slowed, toughening challenges for a new leadership that wants to narrow the gap between rich and poor. Haruhiko Kuroda, the nominee for Bank of Japan governor who has pledged more aggressive easing to boost growth, is due to speak in a parliament hearing today.

“The continued strength in U.S. economic data and Japan’s reflationary intentions buoyed global risk appetite,” said Michael Kurtz, Hong Kong-based head of global equity strategy at Nomura Holdings Inc., Japan’s largest brokerage. “We expect the newly constituted BOJ to announce around 10 trillion yen additional easing measures at its next board meeting and eventually to start open-ended asset purchases ahead of schedule.”

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe nominated Kuroda last month to lead the BOJ, prompting further speculation of increased stimulus if he wins parliamentary backing to take over on March 19.

U.S. Jobs

U.S. employment rose 236,000 last month after a revised 119,000 gain in January that was smaller than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed March 8 in Washington. The median forecast of 90 economists surveyed by Bloomberg projected an advance of 165,000. The jobless rate dropped to 7.7 percent.

China’s industrial production increased 9.9 percent in the first two months and retail sales rose 12.3 percent, government data showed March 9, trailing economists’ estimates. New local-currency loans in February fell to 620 billion yuan ($99.6 billion), the People’s Bank of China said yesterday, lower than the estimates of 27 of 28 analysts in a Bloomberg News survey.

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