U.S. markets were slow to gain traction before the opening bell Friday with global shares mostly higher on news that China’s slowing economy showed signs of stabilizing.
Futures for the S&P 500 inched up 0.1% while the Dow Jones industrials rose 0.2%.
U.S. markets look to finish with gains after a busy week of economic data hinted at a mostly healthy economy with the Federal Reserve holding its next policy meeting next week.
About 13,000 U.S. auto workers stopped making vehicles and went on strike Friday after union leaders and negotiators for Detroit’s three automakers couldn’t reach a deal before the four-year contracts expired at 11:59 p.m. Thursday.
Members of the United Auto Workers union began picketing at three different Midwest plants, one each for General Motors, Ford and Stellantis.
If the strike lasts a long time, dealers could run short of vehicles and prices could rise, impacting a U.S. economy already under strain from elevated inflation.
Boosting market sentiments this week was a report that said U.S. shoppers spent more at retailers last month than economists expected. That reflects a remarkably resilient job market, which has withstood a steep jump in interest rates.
A separate report Thursday morning said fewer workers applied for unemployment benefits last week than expected, which implies the number of layoffs remains low.
A third report said prices getting paid at the wholesale level rose more last month than economists expected. That could be a discouraging signal for households if the higher-than-expected inflation gets passed on to shoppers at the consumer level.
To try to get inflation back down to its 2% target, the Federal Reserve has been increasing interest rates sharply since early last year. Most economists think that the Fed will pause on a rate hike at next week’s meeting, but that it likely hasn’t ruled out one more rate increase before the end of 2023.
In Asian trading, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng surged 0.8% to 18,182.89, while the Shanghai Composite index was shed 0.3% to 3,117.74.
Late Thursday, the People’s Bank of China said it would cut the reserve requirement for banks by 0.25 percentage points as of Friday, “In order to consolidate the foundation for economic recovery and maintain reasonable and sufficient liquidity.”
Further boosting sentiment, the government reported Friday that China’s industrial output rose 4.5% in August from a year earlier, up from 3.7% in July. That is seen as a sign the economy may be breaking out of its post-pandemic malaise.
Japan’s benchmark Nikkei 225 surged 1.1% to finish at 33,533.09. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 jumped 1.3% to 7,279.00. South Korea’s Kospi added 1.1% to 2,601.28.
Arm Holdings jumped 24.7% in their debut on Nasdaq. The strong welcome could be an encouraging signal for the IPO market, which has slowed since the stock market began tumbling early last year on fears about higher interest rates.
“The Arm IPO optimism and China’s further stimulus measures boosted sentiment across Asian stock markets,” Tina Teng, a markets analyst at CMC Markets APAC & Canada, said in a commentary.
France’s CAC 40 gained 1.6% at midday, Germany’s DAX rose 1% and Britain’s FTSE 100 gained 0.5%.
In energy trading, benchmark U.S. crude rose 25 cents to $90.41 a barrel. Crude has been climbing for months as oil-producing countries try to support its price by curtailing their supplies. Brent crude, the international standard, gained 20 cents to $93.90 a barrel.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar rose to 147.85 Japanese yen from 147.42 yen. The euro cost $1.0655, up from $1.0645.
On Wall Street, the S&P 500 climbed 0.8% on Thursday for its best day in two weeks while the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallied 1%. The Nasdaq composite added 0.8%.
Kageyama reported from Tokyo; Ott reported from Silver Spring, Md.