Asian shares advance following encouraging US jobs report

By ELAINE KURTENBACHMarketsAssociated Press

Share prices were higher in Asia on Monday, lifted by encouraging employment data from the U.S. that took the Standard & Poor's 500 index to its third straight weekly gain on Friday despite weakness earlier in the week.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 stock index was up 0.2 percent at 22,855.98 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng index gained 0.5 percent to 28,777.13. The S&P ASX 200 in Australia edged 0.1 percent higher to 6,000.20 and the Shanghai Composite index added 0.4 percent to 3.303.22. South Korea's Kospi was up a bit more than 0.1 percent at 2,467.22. shares in Southeast Asia also were higher.

WALL STREET: U.S. shares climbed after the jobs report showed that employers added 228,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained at a low 4.1 percent in the latest evidence that the U.S. economy continues to improve, in sync with the rest of the world. The S&P 500 rose 0.6 percent to 2,651.50, another record. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.5 percent to 24,329.16 and the Nasdaq composite added 0.4 percent to 6,840.08.

ANALYST VIEWPOINT: "Stronger than forecast data from China, Japan and the U.S. sparked a global rally in share markets on Friday. The US dollar rose, industrial commodities lifted and futures markets indicate the rally will continue in Asia Pacific trading today. However investors are likely to show some caution ahead of major central bank decisions and further globally important data reads this week," Michael McCarthy of CMC Markets said in a commentary.

GEOPOLITICS: An agreement that allows talks to continue to the next stage for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union has reassured investors investors hoping for a smooth exit that does not disrupt global trade. Another potential source of worry for investors dissipated after Congress passed a spending bill that prevented a government shutdown. It keeps the U.S. government running only until Dec. 22, though, when another deadline looms.

ENERGY: The price of oil fell back, with benchmark U.S. crude losing 30 cents to settle at $57.06 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It gained 67 cents to $57.06 per barrel on Friday. Brent crude, the international standard, lost 31 cents to $63.09 per barrel. It rose $1.20 to $63.40 per barrel on Friday. That helped energy stocks in the S&P 500 rise 0.9 percent.

BITCOIN: The first-ever bitcoin future jumped as the increasingly popular virtual currency made its debut on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. The futures contract that expires in January surged more than $3,000 to $18,010 four hours after trading launched on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. The price of an actual bitcoin has soared since beginning the year below $1,000. As of 0400 GMT it was at $16,353.67 on the private exchange Coindesk.

CURRENCIES: The dollar ticked up to 113.59 Japanese yen from 113.48 yen late Friday. The euro rose to $1.1784 from $1.1774, and the British pound climbed to $1.3403 from $1.3465.