World stock indexes were mostly lower Friday as investors awaited the release later in the day of key U.S. jobs data.
KEEPING SCORE: European shares fell in early trading. France’s CAC 40 shed 0.3 percent to 4,886.01 and Germany’s DAX dipped 0.1 percent to 11,573.80. Britain’s FTSE 100 was a fraction lower at 7,194.07. U.S. stocks were poised to open lower. Dow futures crept 0.1 percent lower to 19,809.00 and broader S&P 500 futures slipped 0.1 percent to 2,262.40.
SAMSUNG SURPRISE: The South Korean electronics maker posted its fattest quarterly profit in three years, boosting shares by 1.8 percent and shoring up stock market sentiment. The company said operating profit surged 50 percent to 9.2 trillion won ($7.8 billion), surpassing even the most bullish analyst forecasts.
TRUMP AND TOYOTA: Toyota Motor Corp. stock fell 1.5 percent after President-elect Donald Trump said on Twitter that the Japanese automaker would face a “big border tax” if it goes ahead with plans on a new Mexico plant. Toyota in Japan had no further comments beyond saying that it has been in the U.S. for six decades and its Mexico plant will not affect jobs or production in the U.S.
YUAN IN FOCUS: Markets are paying more attention to China’s currency, which has surged against the dollar in what some see as a sign that Beijing wants to stem the closely controlled currency’s recent decline to curb capital outflows. Authorities on Friday set the midpoint of the narrow band in which the yuan is allowed to fluctuate 639 basis points higher at 6.8668 to the dollar — its biggest increase in years. Yuan traded offshore also jumped and in Hong Kong, the costs for banks to borrow yuan from each other overnight jumped to a staggering 61.3 percent on Friday, up from 38.3 percent the day before. At the end of 2016, the overnight rate was 12 percent; a year ago it was 2.5 percent.
JOBS REPORT: Markets are awaiting a U.S. government report on employment due later Friday that Fed officials will factor into future decisions on interest rate policy. Economists expect a gain of 173,000 jobs, according to data provider FactSet. A private payroll survey released Thursday found fewer jobs were added than economists had expected.
ANALYST VIEW: “Tonight’s U.S. payroll number may set new expectations for the pace of U.S. rate hikes this year,” said Nicholas Teo of KGI Securities in Singapore.
ASIA’S DAY: Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 index lost 0.3 percent to finish at 19,454.33 while South Korea’s Kospi added 0.4 percent to 2,049.12. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.2 percent to 22,503.01 and the Shanghai Composite index slipped 0.4 percent to 3,154.32. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 was nearly unchanged at 5,755.60. Benchmarks in Southeast Asia were higher.
CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 115.93 yen from 115.49 yen in late trading Thursday, though it was still down from highs reached earlier in the week. The euro rose to $1.0606 from $1.0598.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude gained 9 cents to $53.85 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 50 cents to settle at $53.76 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, which is used to price oil sold internationally, edged up 8 cents to $56.97 a barrel in London.