* Asian stock markets : tmsnrt.rs/2zpUAr4
* Asia ex-Japan eases off 4-mth top, S&P 500 futures steady
* Deaths from COVID-19 reached half a million on Sunday
* Dollar, bonds supported on safe haven appeal
By Wayne Cole
SYDNEY, June 29 (Reuters) – Asian share markets began the week with a cautious tone on Monday as the relentless spread of the coronavirus finally made investors question their optimism on the global economy, benefiting safe harbour bonds and the U.S. dollar.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.6% and further away from a four-month top hit last week. Japan’s Nikkei shed 1.3% and Chinese blue chips 0.6%.
In a more promising sign, E-Mini futures for the S&P 500 recouped their early losses to edge up 0.3% and EUROSTOXX 50 futures added 0.2%. FTSE futures dipped 0.2%.
Wall Street had faltered on Friday as some U.S. states reconsidered their reopening plans. The global death toll from COVID-19 reached half a million people on Sunday, according to a Reuters tally.
About one-quarter of all the deaths so far have been in the United States, with cases surging in a handful of southern and western states that reopened earlier.
“The increase in U.S. COVID-19 infection rates has dented momentum across markets despite the improvements in the global economy, which continues to beat most data expectations,” wrote analysts at JPMorgan in a note.
“Our strategists remain sanguine and recommend to buy on dips but also selectivity,” they added. “Traditional hedges like JPY vs USD, USD vs EM FX, gold and quality stocks are still outperforming this month. We stay overweight U.S. equities but move EM equities to neutral and stay neutral U.S. credit.”
Sovereign bonds benefited from the shift to safety with yields on U.S. 10-year notes falling to 0.64%, having briefly been as high as 0.96% early in June.
The U.S. dollar went the opposite direction, rising to 97.461 against a basket of currencies from a trough of 95.714 earlier in the month.
It was a shade higher on the yen at 107.20 on Monday, but well within the recent range of 106.06 to 107.63. The euro stood at $1.1240 having found solid support around $1.1167.
It is an important week for U.S. data with the ISM manufacturing index on Wednesday and payrolls on Thursday, ahead of the Independence Day holiday. Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is also testifying on Tuesday.
“U.S. economic data will reinforce that the economy is through the worst of the recession in our view,” said CBA currency analyst Joseph Capurso.
“But a double-dip recession is possible if widespread restrictions are reimposed, leading to a surge in the dollar.”
In commodity markets, gold held near its highest since early 2012 at $1,771 an ounce.
Oil prices slipped amid concerns the pandemic would slow the reopening of some economies and thus hurt demand for fuel.
Brent crude futures fell 70 cents to $40.32 a barrel, while U.S. crude lost 62 cents to $37.87.
Editing by Sam Holmes
Canada’s economy creates almost 1 million jobs in June – Canada Immigration News
Lifting coronavirus-related lockdown restrictions around the country has sparked the beginning of Canada’s economic recovery.
Many Canadians and permanent residents returned to work for their previous employers while others started new jobs.
Between February and April, a total of 3 million people lost their jobs due to the lockdown, and another 2.5 million were absent from work due to coronavirus-related reasons, according to a Statistics Canada report published on Friday.
May saw a slow start of economic recovery as 290,000 people returned to work. Building on this, the month of June helped alleviate low unemployment rates across the country as employment increased by a record 953,000 people.
These last two months saw the labour market recover by a staggering 40%. Over 1.24 million people gained employment, after 3 million people lost their jobs earlier in the year.
Canada’s overall unemployment rate dropped from 13.7% in May to 12.3% in June.
In addition, the report says that labour force participation rate has increased substantially over the last two months up to 63.8% in June. In comparison, it was 65.5% in February, before coronavirus-related restrictions.
The labour force participation rate is the percentage of the population, aged 15 or older, who are part of the labour force.
This suggests that many people are now more optimistic about the potential of finding a job. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)’s requirement to actively search for work may be another factor. The CESB was introduced to alleviate financial struggles of students who may have been affected by the coronavirus-related restrictions
Moreover, the number of people who work less than half of their usual hours also decreased in June to 26.9% down from 34.3%.
The rise of employment across all provinces is largely aligned with the easing of lockdown restrictions.
Employment in Ontario increased by 378,000 (or 5.9%), Quebec by 248,000 (or 6.5%) and British Columbia by 118,000 (or 5.4%).
As Canada begins reopening its economy, many Canadians and permanent residents have returned to work or have begun looking for work.
In addition, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has returned to normal in terms of Express Entry draws. The latest draw held was an all-program draw. This means that candidates for the Federal Skilled Worker Program (FSWP) and the Federal Skilled Trades Class (FSTC) were also considered.
Since the travel restrictions were put in place to slow the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, IRCC had been holding program-specific draws, alternating between Provincial Nominee Program (PNP) draws and Canadian Experience Class (CEC) draws.
Canada’s latest job statistics is good news for these immigrants since they can expect a stronger job market once they have obtained permanent residence.
© 2020 CIC News All Rights Reserved
COVID-19: Alberta reports 77 new cases on Friday, death count falls by 1 – CTV News
Alberta reported 77 new cases of COVID-19 on Friday, bringing its total number of cases to 8,596.
There are 592 active cases across the province and 7,844 people have recovered from the coronavirus.
The province’s death count fell by one on Friday, from 161 to 160. The number of COVID-19-related deaths fell from 18 to 17.
“One of the deaths reported at the Misericordia has been determined to not have COVID-19 as a contributing cause of death,” a spokesman for the province told CTV News.
The city of Edmonton has now surpassed 1,000 total cases, with 1,001. Its number of active cases sits at 173.
More than 510,000 COVID-19 tests have now been completed in Alberta.
Edmonton, Calgary top Canadian cities in unemployment – CTV News Edmonton
Alberta has the second-worst provincial unemployment rate in Canada after Newfoundland and Labrador..
According to new Statistics Canada data, unemployment reached 15.5 per cent in June.
It marks an 8.8 per cent difference from the same time last year.
The only province with a higher unemployment rate is Newfoundland and Labrador, at 16.5 per cent.
And unemployment in Alberta’s largest cities is also highest among Canadian major urban centres: about 15.7 per cent of the Edmonton workforce is currently unemployed, and 15.6 per cent of the Calgary workforce.
In May, their unemployment rates were 13.6 per cent and 13.4 per cent, respectively.
The news comes alongside a report that Canada added 953,000 jobs in June as businesses forced to close by the pandemic began to reopen.
“That’s important progress but we have a long way to go,” Alberta Premier Jason Kenney commented Friday at a news conference in Fort Saskatchewan, where a carbon capture and storage facility recently reached the five-million equivalent tonnes milestone.
Kenney’s government’s economic recovery plan centres on infrastructure projects that create jobs and making Alberta an attractive place for investment – as does the facility at the Shell Scotford complex, Kenney said.
“Projects like this are a key part of Alberta’s recovery plan to build, to diversify, and to create jobs. When the global economy comes back form COVID, when demand returns for oil and gas, we are going to see, I believe, something of a supply shortage because of all the upstream exploration that has been cancelled, and so we’ll see prices go up. And that will be a great opportunity for Alberta, especially as we make progress on pipelines,” he said.
“But there’s one critical factor, we’ve got to bring investment back. And that means we’ve got to demonstrate our progress on environmental responsibility which is why investments like this… are so important to jobs, the economy, and the future prosperity of Alberta.”
The national unemployment rate fell to 12.3 per cent after hitting a record-high of 13.7 per cent in May.
With files from CTVNews.ca
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