Asian markets start the week off strong, building on last week's rebound – MarketWatch

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Asia-Pacific stock markets maintained strong early gains Monday afternoon, building on a late-week rebound.

Many markets rose at least 1%, following similar gains Friday in the U.S.—including a record close for the Nasdaq Composite—that followed a strong U.S. jobs report.

Despite an increase in hiring last month, wage growth was muted as people rejoined the labor force and so expanded the pool of workers and job seekers—perhaps granting the Federal Reserve a reprieve on having to step in with the cooling measure of higher interest rates. But not for long, some say.

“Both core inflation and wages remain subdued for the moment,” said Eric Robertsen, global head of foreign exchange, rates and credit research at Standard Chartered . “But clients expect the combination of fiscal stimulus and [U.S. dollar] weakness to ultimately lead to price pressures”— forcing the Fed to raise rates faster than had been anticipated.

The Nikkei NIK, +1.65%  finished up 1.7% and indexes in Hong Kong and Singapore showed similar gains in midafternoon action.

Japanese stocks held their gains despite a rebound in the yen, which normally dents the country’s export-oriented companies; the dollar fell a half-yen in just an hour. But Monday Japanese exporters had taken advantage of an earlier rise in the dollar to sell the U.S. currency.

“They were waiting for the dollar to go up. They were waiting to sell” after the yen strengthened last week, says Koji Fukaya, president of FPG Securities.

The WSJ Dollar Index BUXX, -0.17%  was recently down 0.1% as S&P 500 futures rose 0.5% and 10-year Treasury yields TMUBMUSD10Y, +0.26%  were slightly higher on the session at 2.90%.

Elsewhere, a later-than-normal final adjustment to New Zealand’s stock benchmark NZ50GR, +0.88% resulted in its finishing up 0.9%, its first record close in two months. Other Asia Pacific indexes remain at least several percentage points below their best levels of 2018.

Oil futures CLJ8, -0.37%  gave up early gains and were down several cents after jumping 3% Friday. Bitcoin prices stabilized after hitting a one-month low last week. CoinDesk’s bitcoin price index was recently up 0.6% at $9,588.72.

— Suryatapa Bhattacharya contributed to this article.

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