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Shares shuffle higher, dollar lays low ahead of U.S. jobs data

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Via Reuters Finance

LONDON (Reuters) – World shares were eyeing two-year highs and a fourth straight week of gains on Friday as the third U.S. interest rate cut of the year and a surprise bounce in Chinese manufacturing activity eclipsed a blizzard of otherwise sickly global data.

FILE PHOTO: The London Stock Exchange Group offices are seen in the City of London, Britain, December 29, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville

Reports of more U.S.-China trade difficulties, impeachment strains on Washington, the first day at the ECB without Mario Draghi and monthly U.S. jobs figures were all in the mix too, but markets marched on.

Europe’s STOXX 600 index started 0.3% higher, led by a 0.4% rise in Germany’s China-exposed firms .GDAXI after the overnight news that China’s factory activity expanded at its fastest pace in more than two years last month.

That had helped Asia too. Chinese blue chips .CSI300 jumped 1.7% in their best day since mid-August, Seoul’s Kospi .KS11 rose 0.77% and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng .HSI added 0.65% despite data confirming protests there had pushed city into its first recession in a decade.

“The (Chinese) numbers are good given it came ahead of expectations and expansion is always a welcome,” said David Madden, an analyst at CMC markets in London.

There had been a slight wobble in sentiment overnight after a Bloomberg report citing unnamed Chinese officials airing doubts over whether a comprehensive long-term trade deal is possible.

Efforts by Washington and Beijing to end their bruising nearly 16-month trade war had appeared on track on Thursday. U.S. President Donald Trump said the two sides would soon announce a new venue for the signing of a “Phase One” trade deal, after protests in Chile had seen a planned summit there this month canceled.

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China’s doubts were “not entirely unexpected”, Greg McKenna, strategist at McKenna Macro, said in a note to clients, saying that the falls in equity markets overnight were relatively small.

“Either way, today’s deluge of manufacturing PMI’s and then U.S. non-farm (payrolls) will be an important factor in where markets head next,” he added.

Payrolls figures are always closely scrutinized by traders as they are seen as an up-to-date gauge of U.S. economic health. Forecasts this time are for 89,000 new jobs last month which would be well below September’s 136,000 and the recent average.

There also will be the ISM manufacturing PMI reading which is expected to see a rise to 48.9 from 47.8 in September. A separate PMI survey from the Chicago Fed USCPMI=ECI on Thursday showed a sharper contraction in midwestern manufacturing activity for October.

The expectation of more soft data kept the dollar down against the yen at 107.97 JPY= and on track for its biggest weekly loss against the Japanese currency since Oct. 4.

It was also at a 10-day low versus the euro at $1.1165 EUR=EBS, still struggling after the Federal Reserve had cut U.S. interest rates for a third time this year on Wednesday.

Euro zone government bond yields steadied near two-week lows meanwhile, on course for their biggest weekly decline in five weeks as Christine Lagarde officially began her presidency of the European Central Bank.

Analysts said the resumption of asset purchases by the ECB this week had also been helping the bond markets, though focus is already turning to what Lagarde will do during her eight-year term.

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The decision to resume asset purchases has divided the central bank and fueled a perception in markets that the bar to further monetary easing is now high.

Having discounted an ECB depo rate of close to -0.8% just a couple of months ago, the market no longer expects another cut of 10 basis points in 2020 ECBWATCH.

“It’s pretty clear that Lagarde has an uphill task in trying to promote unity that leads to a coherent set of policies going forward,” said Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec. “Her own views can be characterized as continuity with” former ECB chief Mario Draghi.

Among the main commodities, oil prices were little changed on Friday but set for a slide of around 3.5% on the week hurt by rising global supply and concerns about future demand.

Despite the positive China surprise, Japanese factory activity sank to more than a three-year low last month data there had shown. Japan is the world’s third largest economy.

U.S. crude inventories USOILC=ECI rose by 5.7 million barrels in the week to Oct. 25 too, dwarfing analyst expectations for an increase of just 494,000 barrels.

Brent crude LCOc1 ticked up 27 cents, or 0.4%, at $59.89 a barrel by 0955 GMT, on course for a drop of about 3.4% for the week.

FILE PHOTO: Passersby are reflected on a stock quotation board outside a brokerage in Tokyo, Japan, August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Issei Kato

West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 rose 32 cents to $54.50 a barrel, which would leave it with a weekly loss of more than 3.8%.

Graphic: China PMIs, here

Additional reporting by Andrew Galbraith in Shanghai and Dhara Ranasinghe in London; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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