TOKYO Australian stocks tested five-year highs and the dollar was stuck near a two-year low against the euro on Wednesday after disappointing U.S. jobs data firmly pushed expectations for the tapering of Federal Reserve stimulus into next year.
Nonfarm payrolls increased by 148,000 workers in September, less than expected. And while the employment gain in August was revised up, the July figure was revised down to be the weakest since June 2012.
The report suggested the economy was losing momentum even before the U.S. fiscal standoff that partially shut down the government for more than two weeks, lending credence to the central bank's decision to hold off on reducing its stimulus.
"In light of the moderate tone of the September employment report, we have pushed out our expectation for the first Fed tapering in the pace of asset purchases to March 2014 from December 2013," strategists at Barclays wrote in a note to clients.
Nine of 15 U.S. primary dealers surveyed by Reuters on Tuesday expect the Fed to begin tapering its $85 billion a month bond buying program in March.
The dollar was steady at 98.14 yen, but remained under pressure elsewhere. The euro was at $1.3779, just below Tuesday's peak of $1.3792, its strongest since November 2011.
Australian shares were 0.1 percent higher in early deals, testing new five-year highs, and MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan .MIAPJ0000PUS also added about 0.1 percent.
U.S. S&P 500 E-mini futures were down about 0.1 percent in early Asian trade, after the S&P 500 Index .SPX had closed at a record high on Tuesday.
The yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes edged down to 2.510 percent, its lowest since July 24, after closing U.S. trade at 2.512 percent.
On the commodities front, concerns about a near-term U.S. crude surplus helped push the U.S. crude price down about 0.2 percent to $98.13.
Gold was nearly unchanged at $1,340.71 an ounce, having risen to a three-week high after the payrolls data.
(Editing by John Mair)