How’dy USA 

In US economic data on Friday non-farm payrolls rose by 20,000 in February (forecast +180,000). The jobless rate fell from 4% to a near 49-year low of 3.8%. Average hourly earnings rose by 0.4% (forecast +0.3%). Housing starts rose by 18.6% to a 1.23 million annual rate (forecast 1.197m).

US share markets fell slightly on Friday with major indices down for the fifth straight day. Job growth was lower than expected but wage growth hit 10-year highs. The energy sector eased 2% in line with a lower oil price. The Dow Transport index lost 0.5%. Shares in supermarket wholesaler Costco Wholesale rose by 5.1% after quarterly profit topped estimates. The Dow Jones index fell by 23 points or 0.1% after being down 221 points. The S&P500 index lost 0.2%. And the Nasdaq index fell by 13 points or 0.2%. Over the week the Dow and S&P 500 fell by 2.2% and the Nasdaq fell by 2.5%.

US treasuries were only modestly higher on Friday (yields lower). Economic data was mixed but equities and commodities were mildly weaker. US 2-year yields fell by 1 point to 2.47% and US 10-year yields fell by 1 point to 2.63%. Over the week US 2-year yields fell by 9 points and US 10-year yields down by 13 points.

Bonjour Europe 

European share markets fell on Friday. The weak US jobs data weighed on sentiment. And bank shares fell 1.9%, extending losses after the European Central Bank decision on Thursday. German industrial orders fell 2.6% in January - the biggest drop in seven months. The pan-European STOXX600 index fell by 0.9%. The German Dax lost 0.5% and the UK FTSE fell by 0.7%. In London trade, shares of Rio Tinto fell by 0.6% while BHP rose by 0.1%.

Hello, world!

Major currencies were stronger against the US dollar in US and European trade compared with the Asia close. The Euro rose from US$1.1195 to US$1.1245 and was near US$1.1240 in late US trade. The Aussie dollar rose from lows near US70.00 cents to highs near US70.52 cents and was at the highs in late US trade. And the Japanese yen eased from 110.83 yen per US dollar to JPY111.20 and was near JPY111.15 in late US trade.

Global oil prices fell by 0.8-1.0% on Friday. US employment rose by less than expected in February, but housing starts were far stronger than forecasts. And the number of oil rigs in operation in the US fell to 10-month lows. Brent crude fell by US56 cents or 0.8% to US$65.74 a barrel and the US Nymex price fell by US59 cents or 1.0% to US$56.07 a barrel. Over the week Brent rose 1% with Nymex up 0.5%.

Base metal prices were down by between 0.5-1.2% on Friday. Nickel was down the most with zinc and tin down the least. Aluminium was the exception, up 0.3%. Over the week metals fell between 0.8-3.5% with zinc down most and nickel down the least.

The gold futures price rose by US$13.20 an ounce or 1.0% to $1,299.30 an ounce on Friday. The spot gold price was near US$1,298 an ounce in late US trade. Over the week gold rose by just 10c. Iron ore fell by US$2.20 or 2.5% on Friday to US$84.85 a tonne. Over the week iron fell by US$2.45 or 2.8%.

G’day Australia

In Australia no major economic data is expected. There are holidays in ACT, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. In the US, retail sales data is released with business inventories and inflation expectations. The Federal Reserve chair delivers a speech.