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World Shares Up, Extending Wall Street Gains as US Wages Slow

BANGKOK—World shares were mostly higher Monday following last week’s rally on Wall Street, where investors bet that slow U.S. wage gains may augur a cooling of the inflation that has led the Federal Reserve to hike interest rates.

In Europe, Germany’s DAX gained 0.3 percent to 14,647.16 and the CAC 40 in Paris edged less than a point higher, to 3,817.82. Britain’s FTSE 100 edged 0.1 percent lower to 7,691.05.

Gains in technology shares boosted benchmarks in Asia, where Japan’s markets were closed for a holiday.

E-commerce giant Alibaba’s Hong Kong-traded shares jumped 8.7 percent and technology and entertainment company Tencent’s climbed 3.6 percent.

Late Friday, Alibaba affiliate and leading Chinese financial technology provider Ant Group announced its founder, e-commerce billionaire Jack Ma, will give up control of the company. The move followed efforts by the Chinese regime to rein in Ma and the country’s tech sector more broadly.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index gained 1.9 percent to 21,388.34 while the Shanghai Composite index added 0.6 percent to 3,176.08.

In South Korea, the Kospi added 2.6 percent to 2,350.19. Samsung Electronics, the country’s biggest company, gained 2.9 percent. Taiwan’s benchmark climbed 2.6 percent and Bangkok’s SET index added 1 percent.

In Australia, the S&P/ASX 200 advanced 0.6 percent to 7,151.30.

Markets worldwide got an initial jolt Friday from the U.S. jobs report. It showed workers’ wage gains are slowing, which could ease pressure on inflation, but it also showed hiring across the job market may still be too strong for the Fed’s liking, even after its fusillade of rate hikes last year.

The S&P 500 rose 2.3 percent, logging its first winning week in the last five. The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 2.1 percent and the Nasdaq composite added 2.6 percent. Small-company stocks also rose, lifting the Russell 2000 index 2.3 percent.

Investors are watching for the Fed’s plans for rate hikes. Higher rates slow the economy by design, seeking to grind down inflation, but they risk causing a recession and dragging down prices for all kinds of investments.

Amid the ups and downs, “investors may continue to embrace weak data, especially if signs of descending wage inflation continue,” Stephen Innes of SPI Asset Management said in a commentary. “Any indications in the data that the Fed could tap the brakes on its monetary tightening cycle could boost calls for a softer landing that may be optimal for equities.”

Friday’s jobs report showed wages nationwide rose 4.6 percent in December from a year earlier in the smallest increase since two summers ago. Economists had expected wage gains to pick up.

A separate report showed that service industry activity in the U.S. contracted last month, the first time that’s happened since 2020.

The Fed has pulled its key overnight rate up to a range of 4.25 percent to 4.50 percent after it began last year at virtually zero. With inflation showing some signs of cooling in recent months, it trimmed its latest rate increase to 0.50 percentage points after four straight hikes of 0.75 points. Traders are largely betting on the Fed to move to the more traditional hike of 0.25 points at its meeting next month.

Past rate hikes have already inflicted pain in areas of the economy that do best when rates are low, such as housing.

In coming weeks, companies across industries will show how widespread the damage is when they report how much profit they made during the last three months of 2022.

If companies across the S&P 500 report a drop in overall earnings per share, as some analysts suspect, it would be the first decline since the summer of 2020.

In other trading, U.S. benchmark crude oil added $2.35 to $76.12 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It added 10 cents to $73.77 per barrel on Friday.

Brent crude, the international pricing standard, picked up $2.26 to $80.83 per barrel.

The U.S. dollar rose to 132.59 Japanese yen from 132.05 yen. The euro rose to $1.0672 from $1.0643.

By Elaine Kurtenbach

The Associated Press

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