Asian markets got off to a sluggish start on Monday in a week book ended with Easter holidays across the globe and a U.S. jobs report that could impact the timing of the first hike in interest rates there. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was off 0.2 percent. Australia's main index lost 0.8 percent amid weakness in commodity prices. Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen on Friday reaffirmed that rates would likely start rising later this year but emphasized the pace of tightening would be gradual and data dependent.
The state of the U.S. labor market in March will consume economists and investors in the week leading up to Easter, adding to the seesaw debate over when the Federal Reserve will spring its first interest rate hike. Fed Chair Janet Yellen made it clear on Friday that the U.S. central bank is likely to start raising borrowing costs later this year, adding that continued improvement of the labor market would be an important factor in deciding when to move. Labor market data are therefore likely to be the highlight of the economic week, providing a further signal to the Fed on the health of the U.S. economy and its capacity to withstand rate rises. Yellen said a significant pickup in core inflation was not a precondition for the Fed to pull the trigger on rates.
By Sarah McBride SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - To some Silicon Valley watchers, the Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers gender discrimination case became a referendum on the challenging state of women in technology. For Erin Malone, 51, an alternate juror who sat through four weeks of testimony but did not end up deliberating on the verdict, it came down to the credibility of Ellen Pao, 45, the plaintiff who had once worked as a partner at Kleiner. Pao's friendly demeanor crumbled somewhat under cross examination and her performance fell short, Malone said in an interview, echoing the comments of two other jurors interviewed by Reuters who were part of deliberations. Sympathetic to Pao in many areas, Malone, who designs technology allowing users to interact with apps and websites, said she herself felt she reached a "glass ceiling" when she worked at Yahoo Inc years ago.