Apple Results, Jobs Report to Steer Markets

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 mostly inched higher Friday after Apple reported results, but wider equity indexes were little changed ahead of the monthly U.S. jobs report due later in the day.

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

Shares of auto maker Renault rose 4.1%, helping lead European stocks higher, 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, hit by low interest rates, a low-volatility environment and litigation provisions.

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Technology companies modestly outperformed as some were buoyed by Apple's results announced after the U.S. close on Thursday, which outperformed Wall Street expectations.

In Europe, shares of Infineon Technologies rose 0.9% and STMicroelectronics edged up 0.4%. Taiwanese technology companies also mostly moved higher, with shares of Largan Precision up 3.6% and Hon Hai Precision Industry up 0.4%, although a fall in shares of Samsung Electronics mitigated wider gains in the technology sector.

Apple shares jumped in after-hours trading after announcing its fourth consecutive quarterly increase in revenue. A close above $174.24 on Friday would take its market value over $900 billion for the first time.

Investors across the globe were also bracing for the release of the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report, due later Friday ahead of the U.S. market open. The report is a key indicator of the strength of the U.S. economy, and a strong showing would help smooth the way for the Federal Open Market Committee to raise interest rates when it meets Dec. 13.

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

In currencies, the British pound edged down 0.1% to $1.3044 after its biggest daily decline since June. 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," he said.

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 Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell to be the next chairman of the central bank.

German 10-year government bond yields edged down to 0.355% from 0.367% on Thursday while their U.S. counterparts edged up to 2.348% from 2.347%. Yields move inversely to prices.

Earlier, 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%.

The Shanghai Composite Index edged down 0.3% and South Korea's Kospi added 0.5%.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.5% to finish at its highest since April of 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.

Some investors in the region are looking ahead to U.S. President Donald Trump's extended trip to the region, starting Sunday with his arrival in Japan. Headlines related to geopolitical tensions in the region could dampen market sentiment.

Oil futures continued to rise, with Brent crude up 0.3% at $60.82 a barrel on expectations that a production-cap deal set to expire in March will be extended.

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 05:06 ET (09:06 GMT)