Asian markets slipped yesterday following more weak jobs data from the US and Europe as well as figures showing eurozone manufacturing falling for a ninth straight month.
The downbeat outlook saw traders shift to safer assets, which weighed on the euro and Australian dollar.
Sydney fell 0.16 percent, or 6.9 points, to 4,429.0, Seoul fell 0.20 percent, or 3.94 points, to 1,995.13 and Shanghai was 0.17 percent off.
Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.
US payrolls firm ADP reported on Wednesday that just 119,000 private sector jobs were created in April, well off the forecast 170,000, signalling the recent surge in employment could be tailing off.
ADP also revised down March’s figure of 209,000 to 201,000.
The results added to the grim reading from Europe earlier in the day, where research group Eurostat said unemployment hit a record 10.9 percent in March – which includes a 24.1 percent rate in Spain alone.
On Wall Street the Dow ended flat, the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.25 percent and the Nasdaq picked up 0.31 pe rcent.
Eyes are now on a European Central Bank policy meeting later yesterday for clues to its next course of action to boost the sagging economy, while crucial non-farm jobs figures will be released in the US today.
HONG KONG: Shares fell 0.28 percent yesterday amid concerns over the global economy following another weak batch of weak US and eurozone jobs data.
The Hang Seng Index dipped 59.55 points to 21,249.53 on turnover of HK$73.38 billion.
China Construction Bank slid 3.1 percent to HK$5.97 and Bank of China lost 3.1 percent to HK$3.16.
SINGAPORE: Shares closed lower yesterday, tracking lacklustre performances for most regional markets following some disappointing data from the US and Europe.
The Straits Times Index closed 0.2 percent at 3,000.94, after failing to find the inspiration to build on its Wednesday gain.
Losers outnumbered gainers 230 to 165 and volumes were lower at 3.00 billion shares compared with 3.29 billion before.
KUALA LUMPUR: Share prices on Bursa Malaysia closed mixed yesterday due to the lack of direction, which kept the market quiet throughout the trading day, dealers said.
At 5pm, the FTSE Bursa Malaysia KLCI was 0.78 of a point better at 1,583.17, after moving between 1,579.53 and 1,584.15.
HwangDBS Vickers Research said Wall Street overnight saw little action as key stock indices ended between -0.2 percent and +0.3 percent amid a disappointing jobs data report.
In other markets:
* Taipei ended 0.23 percent lower, giving up 17.28 points to 7,659.53.
* Manila closed 1.37 percent, or 71.57 points, higher at 5,300.41.
* Wellington fell 1.06 percent, or 38.27 points, to 3,576.70.
EUROPE: European stock markets rose but the euro fell against the US dollar yesterday as traders digested positive bank earnings and a Spanish bond auction ahead of European Central Bank monetary policy announcements.
London’s FTSE 100 index climbed 0.33 percent to 5,777.24 points in late morning trade, the Paris CAC 40 jumped 1.02 percent to 3,259.40 points and in Frankfurt the DAX 30 won 0.95 percent to 6,774.48.
Madrid’s IBEX 35 index rallied 1.17 percent to 6,911.50 points.
In foreign exchange deals, the euro dropped to US$1.3138 from US$1.3156 in New York late on Wednesday.
Societe Generale yesterday reported a 20.1-percent drop in quarterly net profit to ?732 million owing to a ?119 million charge for risky debt.
Societe Generale’s share price rose one percent to stand at ?18.21 in Paris midday trade.
AMERICA: Wall Street gnawed on a muddle of economic data and corporate earnings news Thursday, then sent stock indexes lower for a second day.
Disappointing April sales results from big retailers set the bleak tone early on. Costco, Macy’s and Target, among others, reported sales that were weaker than analysts had predicted. Colder weather and renewed concerns about the economy weighed on shoppers.
GM shares fell 2.4 percent after the automaker said its first-quarter profit declined, mainly because of weakness in Europe.
Fears of a global financial freeze-up caused by the European debt crisis have receded, but many now worry that Europe’s recession will hurt sales by American exporters such as GM and Caterpillar. Caterpillar lost 1.9 percent.
European stocks closed mostly lower, giving up earlier gains, after signs that European Central Bank will not inject more cash into the region’s fragile banking system.
Trading of U.S. stocks was uneven because investors were “balancing between a weak close for European stocks and trying to bet on what (the monthly jobs report) will look like,” said Peter Tchir, who runs the hedge fund TF Market Advisors.
The labor market has been on traders’ minds all week because the government’s monthly jobs report is due out Friday. The final major indicator before that announcement was positive: The number of people applying for unemployment benefits fell last week by the most in three months.
The conflicting economic indicators offered little direction for major U.S. stock indexes. They opened down, rose slightly in the first 15 minutes of trading then turned lower. Eight of the 10 industry groups in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell. Two rose, but barely.
The Dow Jones industrial average fell 61.98 points, or 0.5 percent, to 13,206.59. The S&P 500 dropped 10.74, or 0.8 percent, to 1,391.57. The Nasdaq composite average slid 35.55, or 1.2 percent, to 3,024.30
The Carlyle Group, a big, politically-connected private equity firm, edged higher after an initial public offering that raised $671 million. The company had priced its stock below the expected range late Wednesday. Carlyle, trading on the Nasdaq under the ticker “CG,” has about $147 billion in assets under management.
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