Asian markets have retreated, taking their lead from a heavy sell-off on Wall Street despite a healthy US jobs report, while the US dollar struggled to regain losses suffered against the yen at the end of last week.
Tokyo’s benchmark Nikkei-225 index on Monday fell 1.69 per cent, or 254.92 points, to finish at 14,808.85; Sydney recovered most of its early losses to close down 0.17 per cent, or 9.1 points, at 5,413.7.
Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index lost 0.59 per cent, or 132.93 points, to end at 22,377.15, while Seoul closed flat, inching up 0.08 per cent, or 1.61 points, to close at 1,989.70.
Shanghai and Bangkok were closed for public holidays.
On Friday, the US Labor Department said the world’s No.1 economy added 192,000 jobs in March – just below forecasts of 195,000 – while the unemployment rate held steady at 6.7 per cent.
While the figure was an improvement on the past three months when the country was hit by a severe winter, the growth rate is unlikely to alter the pace of the Federal Reserve’s stimulus tapering program.
The US dollar sank in New York after the report. A stronger figure would likely have pressed the Fed to wind down its asset purchases quicker, in turn putting upward pressure on interest rates.
The greenback ended on Friday at Y103.26 from Y103.88 earlier in Tokyo.
On Monday, the greenback bought Y103.03 in afternoon trade.
The euro fetched $US1.3701 on Monday afternoon against $US1.3704 in US trade, while it was also at Y141.17, against Y141.50 in New York and Y142.36 in Tokyo on Friday.
On Wall Street, the three main indexes tumbled after notching up strong gains through the week.
The Nasdaq plunged 2.60 per cent, while the Dow sank 0.96 per cent and the S&P 500, which saw two record closes in the week, lost 1.25 per cent.
However, analysts said the sell-off was mostly down to shares in big-name firms such as Facebook, Netflix and Google being overvalued rather than investors reacting to economic data.
Oil prices dipped. New York’s main contract West Texas Intermediate for May delivery dropped 30 US cents to $US100.84 a barrel in afternoon trade and Brent North Sea crude for May slid 80 US cents to $US105.92.
Gold fetched $US1,300.91 an ounce at 1940 AEST, up from $US1,292.03 late on Friday.
In other markets:
– Manila closed up 0.81 per cent, or 53.20 points higher, at 6,614.40.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co was steady at 2,736 pesos while Ayala Corp inched up 0.17 per cent to 606 pesos.
– Wellington fell 0.94 per cent, or 48.06 points, to 5,075.84.
Telecom Corp off 0.20 per cent at $NZ2.525 and Fletcher Building down 1.56 per cent at $NZ9.44
– Taipei edged down 0.14 per cent, or 12.10 points, to 8,876.44.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.84 per cent lower at $Tw117.5 while Hon Hai Precision was up 0.12 per cent to $Tw86.3.