HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets mostly rose Monday after a big miss on US jobs creation last month fuelled optimism that the Federal Reserve will hold fire on tapering its massive financial support programme, while Tokyo extended last week’s rally on hopes for more economic stimulus.

Closely watched data on Friday showed about a third of the expected number of new jobs were added to the world’s top economy in August, largely because of the spread of the Delta variant of Covid-19, which has sent infection rates around the world spiking in recent weeks.

But while the reading suggested the blockbuster recovery enjoyed at the start of this year appeared to be stuttering, observers said it will allow the US central bank to take a little more time scaling back its bond-buying monetary easing.

Fed boss Jerome Powell indicated last month that officials would begin tapering the policy, which has been a key pillar of the economic and market surge for more than a year, by the end of 2021 — but would take it slowly.

He did not provide a timetable, and Friday’s jobs data was considered a crucial guide to when it would begin, with some saying a well-below-par figure would mean policymakers would not move until November or December.

“It reinforces the Delta variant impact on current economic conditions and therefore policy makers have to pivot and be agile,” George Boubouras, of K2 Asset Management, said on Bloomberg Television.

“It reinforces that some form of stimulus will remain in the system for the foreseeable future.”

The jobs data was met with a shrug on Wall Street, with the Dow and S&P 500 edging down, though the Nasdaq ticked up to another record.