European stock markets gain, Asia falls as oil slide, strong US hiring weighed

EnergyAssociated Press

European stock markets were higher Monday while Asian markets fell as investors digested another slide in the price of oil and strong hiring in the U.S.

KEEPING SCORE: Germany's DAX rose 1.1 percent to 9,751.14 and France's CAC-40 added 1.1 percent to 4,223.56. London's FTSE 100 rose 0.6 percent to 6,537.72. Wall Street looked set to recover some of Friday's losses. Dow futures were up 0.4 percent at 17,718 and S&P 500 futures rose 0.4 percent to 2,042.80.

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U.S. ECONOMY: A healthy month of hiring in December capped the best year for U.S. job growth since 1999, demonstrating that employers are more confident than they've been since the Great Recession began. Nearly 3 million jobs were added in 2014, and continued solid hiring is expected to propel the economy this year to its fastest growth in a decade. The gains are putting further distance between the strengthening American economy and struggling nations overseas. But there was one discouraging sign: hourly pay declined by 5 cents in December.

ENERGY: Oil slipped below $48 a barrel Monday and is down 44 percent in the past three months, reflecting high supplies and muted demand from much of the world. Benchmark U.S. crude was down 98 cents at $47.38 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract shed 43 cents on Friday to close at $48.36. Brent crude, used to price international oils, fell $1.39 to $48.72 in London after losing 85 cents on Friday to $50.11.

THE QUOTE: "If lower oil prices owe to a surge in supply, that would be the end of it and the global economy would be so much the better off in the end," said DBS Group in a report. "But if prices are down because of weak demand instead, all bets are off. Economies, including the US, would be no better off."

ASIA'S DAY: The Shanghai Composite Index lost 1.7 percent to 3,229.32 and Seoul's Kospi shed 0.2 percent to 1,920.95. Hong Kong's Hang Seng added 0.5 percent to 24,045.96. Benchmarks in Sydney, Taiwan, Manila and Jakarta declined while Singapore and New Zealand rose. Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.

CURRENCIES: The euro fell to $1.1811 from $1.1844 late Friday. The dollar rose to 118.81 yen from 118.54 yen.