Asian stocks slip after weak US jobs data

Man looking at share board Image copyright AFP

Stock markets in Asia fell as investors reacted to Friday's weaker-than-expected US jobs figures.

The unemployment figures led to speculation the Federal Reserve may not increase interest rates by July.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1.2% in early trading, before recovering some ground to close 62.20 points, or 0.4%, lower at 16,580.03.

The weak US jobs figures sent the value of the dollar lower against major currencies, including the yen.

A stronger yen is seen as bad news for Japanese exporters. The dollar was trading at about 107 yen, compared with about 109 yen before US jobs figures were released on Friday.

The figures showed that US employers added just 38,000 jobs last month, the fewest since September 2010.

Margaret Yang from CMC Markets in Singapore called the data "a big miss".

"The disappointing jobs data has removed some uncertainties surrounding the June rate hike, and thus will help to stabilize global liquidity and exchange rate expectations despite some corrections in the near term," she said.

"In the short term, however, it will also bring in new concerns over the growth prospects for the US economy."

In China, the Shanghai Composite closed down 4.58 points at 2,934.10, although in Hong Kong the Hang Seng reversed early losses to end the day up 82.98 points at 21,030.22.

Australia S&P/ASX 200 index closed up 41.53 points, or 0.8%, at 5,360.42.

South Korea and New Zealand's stock markets were closed for public holidays.

On the currency markets, the pound fell after weekend polls suggested growing support for the Leave campaign in the referendum on EU membership. Two polls put the Leave camp ahead of the Remain campaign.

The pound fell as much as 1.1% against the dollar and by about 0.7% against the euro.

Stock movers

Shares of Japan's biggest brewer Asahi fell by more than 2% on media reports it is exploring a bid for some of SABMiller's eastern European assets.

However, Asahi has denied the reports, saying it is focused on integrating its February purchase of beer brands from Anheuser-Busch InBev.

In Singapore, shares of commodity trader Noble Group tumbled by nearly 10% on concerns over its finances and a major management upheaval.

The firm has been hard hit by the rout in global commodity prices and recently saw its credit rating downgraded to junk by Moody's Investors Services.

On Friday, Noble stock shed 14% to hit its lowest level since 2003 after the company announced senior executives including its chief executive and chairman step down.