Business Times

Asian shares down ahead of US jobs figures

By Danny McCord

HONG KONG, June 3, 2011 (AFP) - Asian shares were mostly lower in edgy trade Friday as dealers nervously awaited a key US jobs report amid concerns over the world's biggest economy. The losses come a day after a regional sell-off that was caused by a slew of miserable US data and follow a warning from Moody's that it could downgrade the US debt rating.

Tokyo fell 0.32 percent by the break, Hong Kong lost 0.23 percent, Sydney dipped 0.22 percent and Seoul gave up 0.15 percent. Shanghai gained 0.14 percent. Investors were given a weak lead from Wall Street, where the Dow fell 0.34 percent following a 2.22 percent fall on Wednesday.

Eyes are on the Labor Department's May employment data that comes before the markets open in New York Friday. The consensus estimate for the net nonfarm jobs created was slashed to 169,000 Thursday from 185,000.

Last week's figures showing a smaller-than-expected drop in jobless claims has added to the anxiety, while on Wednesday payrolls firm ADP said the private sector added 38,000 jobs in May, well below the 170,000 expected.

“There's still that overall fear about a coordinated slowdown of global economic growth,” said RBS Morgans investment adviser Chris MacDonald in Sydney. “Depending on how markets react to tonight's US jobs data, we could get another leg down or some stabilisation,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.
Recent optimism over the US economy has been replaced by fear following a succession of poor indicators.

And the unease was compounded Thursday when Moody's warned that the United States faces a credit review and potentially crippling downgrade if the national debt limit, currently at $14.29 trillion, is not raised within weeks.

Jitters over the US economy weighed on the greenback. The dollar fetched 80.71 yen in Tokyo morning trade, down from 80.88 yen in New York on Thursday. The euro inched up to $1.4487 from $1.4484. The European single currency weakened to 116.92 yen from 117.16.

In Tokyo the Nikkei shrugged off the failure of a no-confidence vote to oust Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who had earlier pledged to step down once the country is on the road to recovery from the March 11 quake and nuclear disaster.

“The market reaction to Thursday's failed no-confidence vote is neutral, as we're back to where we started before the vote, with Kan's resignation date yet to be determined,” said Kazuhiro Takahashi, general manager of investment strategy and research at Daiwa Securities.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for July delivery, rose 20 cents to $100.60 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for July delivery gained 24 cents at $115.78. Gold opened at $1,532.20-$1,533.20 per ounce, down from its Thursday close of $1,540.00-$1,541.00.

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