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Stocks remain firm after more strong US jobs figures

Stock markets remained firm Friday after another set of strong U.S. jobs figures cemented market expectations that the Federal Reserve will be confident enough about the state of the U.S. economy to raise interest rates again next week.

KEEPING SCORE: In Europe, Germany’s DAX was up 0.6 percent at 12,052 while the CAC 40 in France rose 0.7 percent at 5,017. The FTSE 100 index of leading British shares was 0.7 percent higher at 7,368. U.S. stocks were poised for solid gains at the open too, with Dow futures and the broader S&P 500 futures both up 0.4 percent.

U.S. JOBS: U.S. employers added 235,000 jobs in February, more than the 185,000 or so anticipated in the markets. The Labor Department also said the unemployment rate dipped to 4.7 percent from 4.8 percent. Analysts said the figures have more or less sealed the case for another Fed rate hike next week. Friday’s report was the first to cover a full month under President Donald Trump.

ANALYST TAKE: “Today’s U.S. jobs report was more than adequate to justify a rate hike next week, assuming of course that the markets have correctly interpreted the Fed’s very deliberate hawkish delivery over the last few weeks,” said Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA. “It’s difficult to find anything to be down about in the jobs report, with job creation being well above the 12 month average and far exceeding what the Fed deems to be good enough.”

ASIA’S DAY: Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 jumped 1.5 percent to 19,604.61 as the dollar surged against the yen, favoring manufacturers. South Korea’s Kospi added 0.3 percent to 2,097.35. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index added 0.3 percent to 23,568.67 and the Shanghai Composite Index edged 0.1 percent lower to 3,212.76. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.6 percent to 5,775.60.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. oil added 77 cents to $50.05 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 60 cents to $52.79.

CURRENCIES: The euro rose 0.6 percent to $1.0640 while the dollar was up 0.3 percent at 115.28 yen.

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