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Asia Stocks Mostly Rise as Oil Prices Shed Gains

Stocks in Asia were mostly higher in Monday morning trade after U.S. jobs data released Friday had an unexpected jump, spurring hopes of an economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

Mainland Chinese stocks were higher in early trade, with the Shanghai composite up around 0.6% while the Shenzhen component jumped 1.214%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index also gained 0.48%.

In Japan, the Nikkei 225 added 0.75% as shares of Fanuc gained 2.28%. The Topix index also rose 0.52%. Over in South Korea, the Kospi fell into negative territory as it traded fractionally lower.

Overall, the MSCI Asia ex-Japan index traded about 0.2% higher.

Markets in Australia are closed on Monday for a holiday.

Investors watched for reaction to Friday’s U.S. jobs print, where the Labor Department said the economy stateside added 2.5 million jobs in May, a record. Economists polled by Dow Jones had forecast a drop of more than 8 million.

“The US employment report was another one for the history books, with the biggest miss ever relative to expectations,” Jason Wong, senior markets strategist at BNZ Markets, wrote in a note.

“The data are consistent with activity indicators that show a recovery in activity as US lockdowns eased, following the big hole in the economy in April, and give increased confidence that activity is on a clear path upward from here as restrictions have eased further,” Wong said.

Meanwhile, data released over the weekend showed China’s exports contracting in May as demand continued to be depressed by coronavirus lockdowns globally, according to Reuters. Still, the country posted a record trade surplus last month as imports dropped, Reuters reported.

The data came as markets in recent days have gotten a boost amid hopes of an economic recovery as lockdown measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic are eased by authorities globally.

Oil prices shed earlier gains in the morning of Asian trading hours to trade in negative territory. International benchmark Brent crude futures dipped 0.24% to $42.20 per barrel, while U.S. crude futures shed 0.56% to $39.33 per barrel. The moves came after OPEC and its oil-producing allies agreed on Saturday to extend the group’s historic production cut for an additional month.

The U.S. dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of its peers, was at 96.886 after seeing levels above 97.8 last week.

The Japanese yen traded at 109.45 per dollar after weakening drastically from levels below 108.5 last week. The Australian dollar was at $0.6974 after rising from levels below $0.68 last week.