Asian Stock Index Posts Biggest Weekly Drop Since August. Most Asian stocks fell, with the regional benchmark index posting its biggest weekly drop since August, as improving U.S. economic data fuelled speculation the Federal Reserve may bring forward stimulus cuts. The MSCI Asia Pacific Index added 0.1 percent to 139.70 as of 6:53 p.m. in Hong Kong, with about five shares falling for every four that that rose on the gauge. The measure fell 1.7 percent last week, the most since the period ended Aug. 23. The U.S. posted the fastest annualized growth last quarter since the start of 2012 and jobless claims unexpectedly fell as the focus turns to today’s November non-farm payrolls, projected to rise by 185,000 workers.U.S. Stocks Halt Five-Day Slide After November Jobs Data. U.S. stocks rose, halting a five-day slide for the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, as investors weighed better-than-forecast jobs growth to gauge the strength of the economy and timing of Federal Reserve stimulus cuts. The S&P 500 gained 1.1 percent to 1,805.09 last Friday. The advance trimmed last week’s index drop to less than 0.1 percent, the first weekly slide in two months. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 198.69 points, or 1.3 percent, to 16,020.20. The 203,000 increase in payrolls followed a revised 200,000 advance in October, Labor Department figures showed today. The median forecast of 89 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for a 185,000 advance. A report Dec. 4 from the ADP Research Institute indicated companies boosted payrolls in November by the most in a year. The pickup in employment, combined with faster wage gains and more hours, provides American workers with the means to spend and signals companies are confident that demand will improve. The jobless rate fell to a five-year low of 7%. The Fed says it will consider slowing the pace of stimulus if the economy improves in line with its forecasts. In a Nov. 19 Bloomberg Global Poll, 80 percent of investors said they expected the central bank to delay a decision until at least March 2014. Policy makers next meet Dec. 17-18.U.S. Manufacturing Rose in November. U.S. manufacturing rose in November, with the Institute for Supply Management’s factory index climbing to 57.3 in November from 56.4 a month earlier. That beat the median projection in a Bloomberg survey of 77 economists calling for a drop to 55.1. Separate data from the Commerce Department on Dec. 4 showed U.S. new-home sales jumped in October by the most in three decades.
European Stocks Post Biggest Weekly Decline Since June. European stocks posted their biggest weekly decline since June as better-than-estimated U.S. economic reports spurred speculation that the Federal Reserve will begin cutting stimulus measures sooner than forecast. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index fell 2.7 percent to 316.5 this week. The regional benchmark gauge has still surged 13 percent in 2013 as central banks pledged to continue their support for economic growth. The Euro Stoxx 50 Index (SX5E), a measure for the euro area, lost 3.5 percent last week. National benchmark indexes retreated in all of the 18 western European markets last week, except in Iceland. Germany’s DAX (DAX) lost 2.5 percent, while France’s CAC 40 slid 3.9 percent. The U.K.’s FTSE 100 (UKX) slipped 1.5 percent for its fifth consecutive weekly retreat.