By Wayne Cole SYDNEY (Reuters) - Asian stock markets were subdued on Monday in a week book-ended with Easter holidays across the globe and a U.S. jobs report that could affect the timing of the first hike in interest rates there. MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan eased 0.4 percent, with Australia's main index down 1.4 percent amid weakness in commodity prices. Japan's Nikkei dithered on either side of zero though there was some talk of demand for the new month and quarter. 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.
By Steve Slater LONDON (Reuters) - Top European and U.S. banks axed 59,000 jobs last year as they restructured and cut costs, with headcount expected to shrink further in Europe as bosses strive to improve profitability that has been hit hard by tougher regulation. "The screws will stay tight on headcount," said Aymen Saleh, managing director at Boston Consulting Group in London. The majority have done some tactical and convenient belt-tightening to take out costs, but without really fundamentally changing how they operate or their business model." Eighteen of Europe's biggest banks cut a combined 21,500 jobs last year, but that was less than half of the 56,100 jobs cut by the same banks in 2013, according to data compiled by Reuters. Boston Consulting's Saleh said that the majority of banks that have not restructured much could have to cut more jobs, though those that moved early could be in a position to add staff in selected areas.
By Henning Gloystein SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Oil prices dipped in Asian morning trading on Monday, adding to steep losses in the previous session, as Iran and six world powers tried to reach a deal that could add oil to the market if sanctions against Tehran are lifted. Iran and six world powers tried to break an impasse in nuclear negotiations on Sunday ahead of a deadline to find a preliminary deal by Tuesday, although diplomats warned the attempt could still fall apart. International benchmark Brent crude oil futures were at $56.41 a barrel at 0131 GMT, flat with its last settlement after falling five percent on Friday as the market began to price in the possibility of a deal with Iran. "Any relaxation of Iran oil sanctions could see increased exports adding to swelling global supplies and further pressuring prices," ANZ bank said on Monday.
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.
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.