European shares gain following Labour Party victory in UK; Asian markets fall


Shares advanced Friday in Europe after Britain's Labour Party prevailed over the Conservatives in this week's national election.

In London, the FTSE 100 climbed 0.3% to 8,264.59. The British pound rose to $1.2779 from $1.2760 late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.0830 from $1.0812.

Britain experienced a run of turbulent years during Conservative rule that left many voters pessimistic about their country's future. The U.K.'s exit from the European Union followed by the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine battered the economy. Rising poverty and cuts to state services have led to gripes about "Broken Britain."

Labour leader Keir Starmer faces the daunting task of reinvigorating a stagnant economy and dispirited nation.

Germany's DAX jumped 0.9% to 18,622.25 after the government agreed on a budget for 2025 and a stimulus package for Europe's largest economy, ending a monthslong squabble that threatened to upend Chancellor Olaf Scholz's center-left coalition.

The disagreements had fueled speculation that the already unpopular government could collapse and prompt a snap parliamentary election in which Germany could follow other European countries by swinging toward the political right.

The CAC 40 in Paris rose 0.4% to 7,729.25.

The futures for the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average were less than 0.1% higher ahead of Wall Street's reopening from Thursday's Independence Day holiday. During a holiday shortened trading session Wednesday on Wall Street, the S&P 500 rose 0.5% and set an all-time high for the 33rd time this year. The Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.1%, and the Nasdaq composite rose 0.9% to push its own record higher.

The U.S. government will give its comprehensive update Friday about how many workers employers added to their payrolls during June. Traders are watching such numbers closely in hopes that they will show the economy is slowing enough to prove that inflation is under control, but not so much that it will tip into recession.

That would raise the likelihood of the Federal Reserve cutting interest rates that it has been keeping at two-decade highs, which would alleviate pressure on the economy by making borrowing less costly.

The jobs report is expected to show that employers added 190,000 jobs — a solid gain, though down from a robust 272,000 in May.

The report "will play a crucial role in shaping expectations for near-term Federal Reserve rate cuts. Markets currently anticipate a reasonable chance of two rate cuts this year, contrasting with the Fed's median forecast of just one reduction in 2024," Anderson Alves of Activ Trades said in a commentary.

In Asian trading, Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 topped 41,000 early Friday but then fell back from Thursday's record close of 40,913.65. It shed just over 1 point to end at 40,912.37 after the government reported that consumer spending fell 1.8%, more than forecast, in May.

The dollar slipped to 160.66 Japanese yen from 161.26 yen.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1.3% to 17,799.61 and the Shanghai Composite index gave up 0.3% to 2,949.93. The Shanghai benchmark has been trading near its lowest levels since February.

The Kospi in Seoul jumped 1.3% to 2,862.23 after Samsung Electronics forecast that its operating profit in the second quarter will balloon more than 15 times from a year earlier to 10.4 trillion won ($7.52 billion).

Like Nvidia, Taiwan's TSMC, Tokyo Electron and other computer chip makers, Samsung is benefiting from a rebound in the semiconductor industry as applications using artificial intelligence take off.

Elsewhere in the region, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 slipped 0.1% to 7,822.30. Taiwan's Taiex edged 0.1% higher and the SET in Bangkok was up 0.8%.

In other dealings Friday, U.S. benchmark crude oil gained 8 cents to $83.96 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Brent crude, the international standard, declined 6 cents to $87.37 per barrel.

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