Traders confer as they work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. Image Credit: AP

LONDON: Stock markets rebounded Friday as data showed a whopping 312,000 jobs created in the US last month, at least temporarily relieving investor concerns about the health of the world’s top economy.

The data smashed economists’ expectations, and wages rose steadily, gaining 3.2 per cent for the year.

The blockbuster US jobs numbers starkly contrasted with the mounting fears for the global economy of recent weeks — which have seen stock prices tumble and confidence wane among corporations who foresee slowing demand and weakening sales in 2019.

“For all the current market doom and gloom over the US’s prospects, there are some positives, such as the red-hot jobs market,” said ING bank’s chief international economist, James Knightley.

“This really positive report should certainly ease creeping fears in the market that the Federal Reserve may be forced to cut interest rates” due to a slowdown in the economy, he added.

Other analysts see the data as pointing to further increases in interest rates, and the dollar perked up.

“The key takeaway from the report is that employment data are unlikely to deter the Federal Reserve from its tightening path, especially if average hourly earnings growth remains on its current trajectory,” said analysts at Briefing.com.

At 9:50am ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 406.06 points, or 1.79 per cent, at 23,092.28, the S&P 500 was up 45.08 points, or 1.84 per cent, at 2,492.97 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 133.75 points, or 2.07 per cent, at 6,597.25.

European stocks were also strongly higher, having followed Asian exchanges upwards on positive news from China.

“Equity markets have rallied ... after some positive news was released from China overnight,” noted David Madden, market analyst at CMC Markets UK.

A leading survey of Chinese manufacturing nudged higher for December, confounding analysts who had expected it to decline.

“The announcement was a welcome change from the negative news surrounding China this week,” Madden added.

Investors have been concerned about China’s economy slowing down due to the trade disputes with the United States.

Meanwhile, China’s central bank moved after markets closed there to stimulate the economy by allowing commercial banks to use more of their funds for lending.

Market analyst David Cheetham at XTB online trading platform said that move by China’s central bank “cut the bank reserve ratio by 1 percentage point to release around 1.5 trillion yuan of liquidity and this has sparked a rally this morning in stocks as they look to recover from recent declines.”

Hopes of progress regarding China-US trade war tensions also provided support to equities, analysts said.

Beijing said Friday a US delegation would visit China at the start of next week for the first face-to-face talks since President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed a ceasefire.

Word of the meeting follows small signs of progress — and the absence of new threats from Trump — while the two sides work to ease trade tensions.

Nevertheless, traders remain on edge as they face a confluence of issues including a Chinese stuttering economy overall, the US government shutdown and Brexit.

Gold, which along with the yen has in recent sessions profited from haven investment status, reached a six-month high at $1,298.31 an ounce.

Tokyo’s main stocks index meanwhile slumped as it caught up with losses elsewhere in recent days caused in part by Apple’s shock revenue warning.