Global stocks soften on report of US jobs decline

By The Associated Press Markets Associated Press

Global stocks weakened Friday after official figures showed that the U.S. economy shed jobs for the first time in six years in September due to the impact of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma on southern states.

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KEEPING SCORE: Britain's FTSE 100 was up 0.2 percent at 7,520 while Germany's DAX was flat at 12,979. The CAC 40 of France lost 0.2 percent to 5,369. Wall Street looked set for a slow start, with Dow and S&P 500 futures both down 0.2 percent.

U.S. JOBS DATA: The U.S. lost 33,000 jobs in September, though the unemployment rate fell to 4.2 percent from 4.4 percent, the lowest level since February 2001. Looking past the hurricanes' impact, the job market and economy generally look healthy. Some economists expect job growth to rebound in the coming months as businesses in the U.S. states affected by the hurricanes reopen and construction companies ramp up repair and renovation work.

SPAIN: Stocks were down in Spain amid tensions over the Catalan region's bid for independence. The main Ibex 35 index was down 0.2 percent as more firms decided to move their official registration out of the region. The decisions don't affect jobs or assets but are a symbolic blow against the Catalan movement, and show business is worried about an escalation in tensions.

ASIA'S DAY: Japan's Nikkei 225 index climbed 0.3 percent to 20,690.71 and the Hang Seng index in Hong Kong advanced 0.2 percent to 28,432.56. Australia's S&P ASX/200 surged 1.0 percent to 5,710.70 and India's Sensex jumped 0.6 percent to 31,775.92. Shares in Southeast Asia and Taiwan also were mostly higher.

CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 113.35 Japanese yen from 112.83 yen late Thursday. The euro slipped to $1.1686 from $1.1711 and the British pound dropped to $1.3044 from $1.3119.

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ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude fell sharply on the jobs data, giving up $1.09 to $49.70 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added 81 cents to $50.79 on Thursday. Brent crude, the standard for international oil prices, dropped 78 cents to $56.22 per barrel.