Asian shares weakened Friday, with a sharp drop in crude oil hitting energy names, and markets tracking Wall Street losses ahead of the closely watched US nonfarm payrolls report.
South Korea’s Kospi KR:SEU -0.43 percent traded down 0.5 percent, as did Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index AU:XJO -0.63 percent and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index HK:HSI -0.73 percent.
The Shanghai Composite Index CN:000001 +0.10 percent slipped 0.1 percent, while Japanese markets remained closed for holiday.
“With a key economic reading – US nonfarm payrolls data – due out in the US session later today, we are likely to see investors exercise some caution going into the end of the week,” said Stan Shamu, strategist at IG Markets.
The US employment payroll data will cap a week of focus on global jobs data, including numbers Wednesday showing that the euro-zone unemployment rate reached a record high in March. Read more on European jobs.
Wall Street closed lower on Thursday ahead of the key US jobs data for April. Economists expect that the US gained 163,000 jobs last month, up from a disappointing 120,000 in March. Read US jobs preview.
Adding to growth worries, the Reserve Bank of Australia on Friday lowered its economic growth forecast, with the central bank saying that available indicators “suggest that the economy grew at a modest pace” in the first quarter. Read more on RBA forecasts.
“Global growth concerns are increasingly becoming an issue,” said Shamu at IG Markets. Against these concerns, most cyclical stocks – or firms tied to economic growth – would be expected to struggle in Asian trading Friday, he said.
These included commodity-related companies, with some energy shares taking an especially heavy hit after benchmark US crude-oil futures plunged 2.6 percent.
In Hong Kong, shares of Cnooc Ltd HK:883 -2.15 percent CEO -1.12 percent lost 1.7 percent, while those of PetroChina Co. HK:857 -1.56 percent PTR -1.77 percent CN:601857 +0.10 percent dropped 1.2 percent.
Sydney-listed Woodside Petroleum Ltd AU:WPL -2.18 percent WOPEF +5.25 percent dropped 2 percent, while Origin Energy Ltd AU:ORG -1.97 percent OGFGF +0.74 percent fell 1.9 percent, and Santos Ltd AU:STO -3.33 percent [ STOSF -1.64 percent dove 3.1 percent lower.
Overnight weakness in other commodities also hit resource shares across Asia.
Australian gold miner Newcrest Mining Ltd AU:NCM -3.19 percent NCMGF -1.75 percent dropped 3 percent, while Rio Tinto Ltd AU:RIO -1.37 percent RIO -3.33 percent traded down 1.6 percent.
In Hong Kong, Aluminium Corp. of China Ltd HK:2600 -2.41 percent ACH -2.15 percent CN:601600 -0.41 percent fell 2.4 percent, and resource-focused conglomerate Citic Pacific Ltd HK:267 -2.03 percent CTPCF +1.26 percent traded lower by 1.4 percent
Global economic uncertainty appeared to drag on exporters as well, with Hong Kong-listed apparel firm Esprit Holdings Ltd HK:330 -4.21 percent ESHDF +3.97 percent down 2.8 percent, and Seoul-traded Samsung Electronics Co. SSNLF +3.31 percent losing 2.1 percent.
The Samsung Electronics loss came even as the electronics major launched a faster, larger version of its flagship smartphone aimed at sustaining its strong growth in advanced cellphones and avoiding an escalation of a global patent dispute with Apple Inc. AAPL -0.71 percent. Read more on Samsung Electronics’ new Galaxy phone.
Qantas Airways Ltd AU:QAN -0.31 percent QUBSF +0.60 percent slipped 0.2 percent in Sydney. The airline said Friday that it would cut capital expenditure in its next financial by delaying the delivery of two super-jumbo A380 aircraft, made by EADS SA’s FR:EAD +1.29 percent Airbus unit. Read more on Qantas.
Caltex Australia Ltd AU:CTX -0.87 percent CTXAF +1.85 percent declined 0.9 percent after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission announced it has started a formal investigation into the sharing of price information by gasoline retailers.