Apple Results, Jobs Report to Steer Markets -- Update

By David Hodari, Riva Gold and Lucy Craymer Features Dow Jones Newswires

Investors await jobs report

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-- Pound steadies after biggest fall since June

-- Apple jumps in after-hours trading

Technology stocks were mostly higher Friday after Apple reported better-than-expected results, although wider equity indexes were little changed ahead of the U.S. jobs report due later in the day.

The Stoxx Europe 600 edged up 0.1% in early-day trading after five consecutive days of gains. S&P 500 futures were up less than 0.1%. That followed torpid trading in Asia, with only Australian and Chinese stocks making noteworthy moves.

Nasdaq-100 futures were up 0.3% and global technology companies modestly outperformed after Apple said late Thursday that it delivered its best quarterly growth in two years. Apple shares jumped in after-hours trading, and a close above $174.24 on Friday would take its market value over $900 billion for the first time.

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Apple shares have climbed around 45% so far in 2017, playing a large role in this year's rally in U.S. stocks.

In Europe, shares of chip-gear firm ASML Holding rose 0.8%, chip maker Infineon Technologies rose 1.5% and semiconductor maker STMicroelectronics rose 1.6%. Taiwanese technology companies also moved higher, with shares of Largan Precision up 3.6% and Hon Hai Precision Industry up 0.4%.

Meanwhile, shares of Renault rose 5.2%, with the auto sector the best performer in Europe, after the French government said it was selling part of its stake in the company. That helped offset declines in the banking sector, with shares of Société Générale down 3.5% after it said its third-quarter profit fell significantly.

Spain's IBEX 35 index fell 0.7% but remained on track for weekly gains. A prosecutor asked a Spanish court on Thursday to issue an arrest warrant for Carles Puigdemont, the leader of Catalonia's secessionist movement who fled to Belgium to escape authorities in Spain.

Investors across the globe were braced for the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, due before the U.S. market open. The report is a key indicator of the strength of the economy and a strong showing would help smooth the way for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates when it meets Dec. 13.

Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal predicted 315,000 jobs were created in October. After September numbers that showed the first monthly drop in seven years--attributed to the hurricane effect--"expectations are quite high" for the October reading, said OM Financial client adviser, Stuart Ive.

The British pound edged down 0.1% to $1.3045 after its biggest daily decline since June, helping lift the export-heavy FTSE 100 index another 0.3% Friday. The Bank of England on Thursday raised interest rates for the first time in more than 10 years but signaled that further increases weren't imminent, causing the pound to slump 1.4% against the U.S. dollar.

"More important than the decision were the comments during the press conference and inflation report, which were quite dovish," said Markus Stadlmann, chief investment officer at Lloyds Banking Group. "There are so many moving parts with regards to the economic situation for the U.K. at the moment that for investors, we have to take it step by step."

The WSJ Dollar Index, which weighs the U.S. currency against a basket of 16 others, ticked 0.1% higher as investors continued to parse the details of a Republican tax bill and the nomination of Fed governor Jerome Powell to be the next chairman of the central bank.

The Dow industrials fell more than 80 points Thursday after a detailed summary of the tax plan was reported, but the blue-chip index climbed later in the session to end higher.

"We think tax reform is more likely than the market thinks it is," said Jon Adams, investment strategist with BMO Global Asset Management, noting expectations for a tax cut in 2018 are one of the reasons for the asset manager's modest preference for equities over bonds.

"This is a very fluid process and it's likely that there will be a lot of change to what is currently being proposed," he added.

U.S. 10-year government bond yields edged up to 2.351% from 2.347% Thursday. German 10-year government bond yields edged down to 0.360% from 0.367%. Yields move inversely to prices.

Asia-Pacific equities were little changed ahead of the U.S. jobs report, with Japanese markets closed for a holiday.

Chinese tech giant Tencent rose 1.6% to a fresh record after peer Alibaba reported positive quarterly results. The gain helped Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index--of which Tencent is the largest component--rise 0.3%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5% to finish at its highest since April 2015 as commodity-price gains lifted materials and mining companies. Steel and key steel ingredient iron ore were among the leaders in this week's metals rebound, while nickel has been a standout over the past month, jumping 23% on expectations that rising demand from electric-vehicle producers will tighten supplies.

Investors in the region were also looking ahead to President Donald Trump's extended trip there, starting Sunday in Japan.

Write to David Hodari at David.Hodari@dowjones.com, Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com and Lucy Craymer at Lucy.Craymer@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

November 03, 2017 05:58 ET (09:58 GMT)