Prices flat after US data

SHARE prices closed little changed yesterday after the US Labour Department said the economy added a larger-than-expected 267,000 non-farm jobs last month.

The FTSE 100-share index was unchanged at 3,106 points after rising to a high of 3,121.6 and falling to a low of 3,092.3.

Rising banking and oil stocks, benefiting from better-than-expected earnings, negated the effect of the high jobs total in the US.

There were renewed fears of an imminent rise in US interest rates.

''There was too much hype about the jobs figures, so after an initial shock, the market recovered reasonably well,'' said Darren Winder, an economist at SG Warburg.

Many investors are concerned the job figures might lead the US Federal Reserve to raise the rate on overnight bank loans higher than 3.75 per cent, to stop the economy from overheating.

On April 18, the Federal Reserve raised the interest rate for overnight bank loans to 3.75 per cent from 3.5, its third increase this year.

High interest rates make fixed-income investments such as bonds, relatively better value than stocks, draining money out of the stock market.