People walk past an electronic stock indicator of a securities firm in Tokyo, Monday, May 1, 2017. Asian shares were mostly higher Monday despite worries over regional tensions after North Korea carried out a missile test over the weekend. Many markets in Asia and Europe were closed for Labor Day. (AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi)

Nikkei gains on strong data; Markets in Europe closed

May 01, 2017 - 5:15 am

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's index rose Monday, helped by a weaker yen and strong readings in a manufacturing survey, while many markets in Europe and the rest of Asia were closed for holidays.

KEEPING SCORE: Many markets in Asia and Europe, including France, Germany and Great Britain, were closed for Labor Day. U.S. shares were set to drift higher as Dow futures rose 0.1 percent to 20,897.00. S&P 500 futures were also up 0.1 percent to 2,383.60. Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 gained 0.6 percent to finish at 19,310.52. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was up 0.6 percent to 5,956.50.

JAPAN MANUFACTURING: The Nikkei purchasing managers index survey of Japanese manufacturers found improved output, new orders and employment in April. The index, on a scale of 1-100 where 50 and above indicates expansion, rose to 52.7 from 52.4 in March. Meanwhile, the dollar rose against the yen, a trend that tends to help Japanese exporters' shares. "Growth of the Japanese manufacturing sector is being sustained at a healthy clip at the start of the second quarter," Paul Smith, senior economist at HIS Markit, which compiles the survey, said in a commentary.

U.S. ECONOMY: U.S. jobs data will be released later this week. The Labor Department said last week the U.S. economy turned in its weakest performance in three years in the January-March quarter, reflecting a slowdown in consumer spending. Growth, as measured by gross domestic product, amounted to 0.7 percent in the first quarter, less than what economists were expecting.

FRANCE FACTOR: A runoff election is set for Sunday for the French presidency between centrist Emmanuel Macron and far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen. There are worries about growing nationalism.

THE QUOTE: "The market mood remains relatively cautious ahead of a big news week that will include the French election and U.S. jobs data," Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a commentary.

ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell 24 cents to $49.09 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 36 cents, or 0.7 percent, to settle late Friday at $49.33 per barrel in New York. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell 31 cents to $51.74 a barrel in London.

CURRENCIES: The euro edged down to $1.0897 from $1.0924 late Friday in Asia. The dollar strengthened to 111.79 yen from 111.44 yen.


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