Hong Kong, May 3
Asian markets mostly fell on Thursday following more weak jobs data from the United States 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 slipped 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 Hong Kong shed 0.28 percent, or 59.55 points, to 21,249.53 while Shanghai clawed back early losses to end flat, edging up 1.64 points to 2,440.08.
Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.
US payrolls firm ADP reported 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.
Adding to the gloom in the eurozone was news that manufacturing in the region continued to taper as nations tighten their belts with austere budget cuts as part of a drive to cut their huge public deficits.
A survey by Markit showed the Purchasing Managers Index of manufacturing activity hit 45.9 in April from 47.7 in March, its lowest for three years and the ninth month in a row it has fallen.
A reading below 50 indicates contraction.
“A risk-off tone has developed in the wake of disappointing economic data,” said Credit Agricole strategist Mitul Kotecha in a note, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
“While hitting equities, the weaker market tone is likely to keep the US dollar buoyed.”
The euro slipped to $1.3137 in early European trade from $1.3158 late Wednesday in New York, and to 105.55 yen from 105.56. The dollar was fetching 80.36 yen, from 80.14 yen.
And the Australian dollar fell to US$1.0283, from US$1.0337.
On Wall Street the Dow ended flat, the Standard & Poor’s 500 fell 0.25 percent and the Nasdaq picked up 0.31 percent.
All eyes were on a European Central Bank policy meeting later in the day for clues to its next course of action to boost the sagging economy, while crucial non-farm jobs figures will be released in the United States on Friday.
Oil prices were mixed, with New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in June, down 32 cents at $104.90 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June fell 39 cents to $117.81.
Gold was at $1,644.00 an ounce at 1045 GMT, compared with $1,650.70 late Wednesday.
In other markets:
-- Singapore closed down 0.17 percent, or 5.20 points, at 3,000.94.
United Overseas Bank was down 0.57 percent at Sg$19.31 while oil rig maker Keppel Corp shed 0.63 percent to Sg$11.03.
-- Taipei ended 0.23 percent lower, giving up 17.28 points to 7,659.53.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.57 percent higher at Tw$88.9 while Hon Hai Precision edged up 0.45 percent to Tw$90.0.
-- Manila closed 1.37 percent, or 71.57 points, higher at 5,300.41.
Bloomberry Resorts jumped 4.32 percent to 9.40 pesos while Alliance Global Group rose 3.07 percent to 13.40 pesos.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone gained 0.78 percent to 2,572 pesos.
-- Wellington fell 1.06 percent, or 38.27 points, to 3,576.70.
Contact Energy fell 1.82 percent to NZ$4.85, Fletcher Building shed 2.14 percent to NZ$6.39 and Telecom was 2.27 percent off at NZ$2.59.
-- Jakarta rose 0.11 percent, or 4.71 points, to 4,224.00.
Nickel and gold miner Aneka Tambang gained 0.6 percent to 1,720 rupiah, Bank Central Asia rose 0.6 percent to 8,050 rupiah, and retailer Mitra Adiperkasa climbed 1.4 percent to 7,100 rupiah.
-- Kuala Lumpur was flat, edging 0.78 points higher to 1,583.17.
Budget carrier AirAsia gained 8.1 percent to 3.60 ringgit, while telecoms provider Axiata Group rose 0.2 percent to 5.33 ringgit. Petronas Chemicals Group slipped 0.5 percent to 6.55 ringgit.
-- Bangkok was flat, edging up 0.97 points to 1,240.03.
Banpu lost 0.35 percent to 566.00 baht and PTT Plc was unchanged at 359.00 baht.
-- Mumbai slid 0.87 percent, or 150.72 points, to 17,151.19.
Tata Steel fell 3.00 percent to 448.3 rupees while India’s largest passenger car maker Maruti Suzuki closed down 3.06 percent at 1,291.4.