Job-seekers interact with potential employers at a City of Boston Neighbourhood Career Fair in Boston, Massachusetts. Reuters
US job growth slowed sharply in May and wages rose less than expected, raising fears that a loss of momentum in economic activity could be spreading to the labour market,
US retail sales increased by the most in 1-1/2 years in March as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and a range of other goods, the latest indication that economic growth picked up in the first quarter after a false start.
Activity is contracting in the US manufacturing sector but the number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell last week, signs that factories are suffering from a global slowdown even as the broader labour market remains healthy.
US employers maintained a robust pace of hiring in February, giving the economy a strong boost as it confronts the coronavirus outbreak that has stoked financial market fears of a recession and prompted an emergency interest rate cut from the Federal Reserve.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index slipped 0.1%, failing to match Asian and Wall Street gains , France's CAC 40 fell 0.7% after the country set a new record of daily COVID-19 infections.
Versus the dollar, sterling was up 0.3% at $1.2784 by 0823 GMT, after hitting a two-month low of $1.2676 on Wednesday . Against the euro, sterling was also up 0.4% at 91.24 pence. , after hitting a one-week high of 91.13 on Thursday.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up 0.6% to 23,214.38. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 1.5% to 5,964.90, while South Korea's Kospi added 0.6% at 2,285.09. Hong Kong's Hang Seng gave up earlier gains, sinking 0.7% to 23,146.61. The Shanghai Composite index fell 0.4% to 3,209.85.
Shares rose in India but fell in Taiwan and Thailand.