Saturday, 4 May 2013

US stocks rise to another record as employment improves, India cuts interest rates

The S&P 500 rose to another record on Friday, climbing 1.1 percent to close at 1,614.22.

Stocks gained despite mixed economic data on Friday.

US nonfarm payrolls increased by 165,000 in April, better than the 138,000 increase in March. The unemployment rate fell to 7.5 percent, the lowest in four years.

However, US factory orders fell 4.0 percent in March while the Institute for Supply Management's services index fell to 53.1 in April from 54.4 in March.

Elsewhere, a report on Friday showed that China's services sector slowed in April. The non-manufacturing PMI from the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing fell to 54.5 from 55.6 in March.

However, the UK services sector accelerated in April. The services index from Markit Economics and the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply rose to 52.9, the highest in eight months, from 52.4 in March.

Still, the economic weakness in Europe will remain a concern for policy makers, especially after the European Commission lowered its forecast for the eurozone economy on Friday. The Commission now sees the eurozone economy contracting by 0.4 percent this year, worse than its February forecast of 0.3 percent contraction.

Indeed, growth concerns pushed India's central bank to reduce its benchmark repo rate by 25 basis points to 7.25 percent on Friday, its third cut this year.

The ever-expanding monetary stimulus coming from central banks around the world has raised its own concerns though. The Asia Development Bank's managing director Rajat Nag warned on Friday that while quantitative easing out of Japan and other economies will help them grow, “we have to be wary of building asset bubbles”.

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