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Stocks Pause After Record Run

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10/06/2017 | 09:56am CET
By Christopher Whittall and Ese Erheriene 

Stocks in Europe and U.S. futures were little changed Friday after U.S. equities notched milestones not seen in more than 20 years on Thursday.

The Stoxx Europe 600 slipped 0.1% in early morning trade after Asian markets broadly pushed higher. Futures markets pointed to small opening loss on Wall Street after the S&P 500 closed at its sixth straight record on Thursday, its longest streak of highs since 1997.

Investor focus will turn later Friday to the U.S. jobs report, a key gauge of the health of the economy.

Stocks around the world have been on a tear in recent sessions. As U.S. equity benchmarks have climbed to record highs, a gauge of expected swings in the index-- CBOE's Volatility Index, also known as Wall Street's "fear gauge"--has fallen to an all-time low.

European stocks recently recorded their longest winning streak in more than two years. In Asia, meanwhile, Japan's Nikkei Stock Average is at levels last seen in June 2015.

With the global economy humming along, investors see few obvious catalysts for a sudden reversal. Still, the fact that U.S. equities in particular look expensive on a range of valuation metrics has made some investors reluctant to chase the market higher.

"This seems to be the most unloved bull market in history," said David Vickers, a portfolio manager at Russell Investments.

"You get the sense that people are gradually getting sucked" in, he added.

In Europe, losses in retail and construction stocks weighed on the broader index.

The U.S. jobs report will be the main point of focus for investors on Friday. Economists are projecting just 80,000 new jobs in September, less than half this year's monthly average, as Hurricanes Harvey and Irma are expected to have slowed hiring.

Investors will also be watching the unemployment rate, which has hovered near a 16-year low in recent months, and earnings as they look ahead to whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates in December.

Expectations that the Fed will move have grown in recent sessions, pushing the dollar and Treasury yields higher.

On Friday, the WSJ dollar index was up 0.2% at its highest level since July. The yield on the 10-year Treasury note was little changed at 2.356%, also around its highest level since July.

Australia led gains in the Asia-Pacific region. The S&P/ASX 200 rose 1%, bolstered by overnight gains in commodity prices and rising financial stocks, both of which are important segments for the benchmark.

In Hong Kong, the Hang Seng Index rose 0.3%, on track for its highest close in a decade. The market has been the region's star this year, rising 29%.

It gained a cumulative 3% on Tuesday and Wednesday--the city's only other trading days this week because of holidays--after China's central bank decided to cut the reserve requirements of banks if certain lending metrics are achieved. Stocks of China's big banks have risen 5% to 10% this week in Hong Kong.

Japan's Nikkei Stock Average rose 0.3% as exporters were boosted by a slight decline in the yen against the dollar. Markets in China and South Korea remained closed for public holidays.

Commodity prices were down slightly. Brent crude oil declined 0.3% to $56.82 a barrel. Gold was down 0.2% at $1270.80 an ounce.

Write to Christopher Whittall at [email protected] and Ese Erheriene at [email protected]

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