Asian markets hit by poor US jobs figures

Asian markets tumbled further on Monday as poor US jobs data added to already weak sentiment caused by Spain's banking crisis and political uncertainty in Greece.

Dealers were also digesting a string of manufacturing figures from Asia to the United States that pointed to a global economic slowdown.

Tokyo ended 1.71 percent, or 144.62 points, lower at 8,295.63, with electronics giant Sony the stand-out loser as it fell below 1,000 yen for the first time since 1980, ending at 996 yen.

Seoul fell 2.80 percent, shedding 51.38 points to close at 1,783.13, while Sydney slipped 1.94 percent, or 78.9 points, to 3,985.0.

Hong Kong tumbled 2.01 percent, or 372.75 points, to 18,185.59 and Shanghai was down 2.73 percent, or 64.89 points, at 2,308.55.

Washington said on Friday that the economy added a meagre 69,000 jobs in May -- the slowest rise for 12 months -- while the unemployment rate rose for the first time in almost a year, to 8.2 percent.

The Labor Department also slashed its estimate of April job gains by 33 percent, to 77,000. The market has softened in recent months, from an average gain of 226,000 in the first three months of the year.

The disappointing numbers came after the government said the world's largest economy slowed from an annual growth rate of 3.0 percent in the final quarter of 2011 to a 1.9 percent pace in January-March, too weak a pace to dent unemployment.

They also compounded investor woes after purchasing manager indices for May from China, India, the eurozone and the United States all came in lower, underlining the weak state of the global economy.

The Dow fell 2.22 percent -- leaving it in the red for the first time in 2012 -- while the broad-based S&P 500 tumbled 2.46 percent and the Nasdaq Composite sank 2.82 percent.

Global markets have been sent into a tailspin as Europe's debt troubles returned to the fore last month after a general election in Greece saw a strong showing for anti-austerity parties, while a bank crisis in Spain has left the already beleaguered economy teetering.

Attention will turn to the weekend when Greece will hold a second election, with markets hoping for a victory for pro-austerity groups.

Economists fear a victory for anti-austerity parties could see Athens tear up a bailout deal and end up leaving the eurozone.

In early European trade, the euro bought $1.2433, up slightly from $1.2423 in New York late Friday, where it had risen on the back of the poor US jobs figures.

It bought 97.15 yen, up from 97.01 yen in New York while the dollar was at 78.12 yen, compared 78.08 on Friday.

On oil markets, Brent North Sea crude for July shed $1.47 to $96.96 a barrel, and New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude for July, fell $1.23 to $82.00.

Gold was at $1,622.90 an ounce at 1100 GMT, compared with $1,553.00 late Friday.

In other markets:

-- Mumbai edged up 0.15 percent, or 23.24 points, at 15,988.4 amid hopes that the Indian central bank might soon cut interest rates to boost the flagging economy.

Steel firm Jindal Steel fell 2.71 percent to 417.4 rupees, while engineering giant Larsen and Toubro rose 3.43 percent to 1,173.4 rupees.

-- Singapore closed down 1.70 percent, or 46.81 points, to 2,698.90.

DBS Bank was down 1.37 percent at Sg$12.95 while Singapore Telecommunications shed 0.65 percent to Sg$3.05.

-- Taipei fell 2.98 percent, or 211.43 points, to 6,894.66.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. dropped 4.26 percent to Tw$76.5 while leading smartphone maker HTC ended 6.52 percent lower at Tw$387.0.

-- Indonesian shares fell by 145.18 points, or 3.82 percent, to 3,654.58.

Coal miner Bumi Resources slid 11 percent to 1,260 rupiah, rival Indika dipped 8.1 percent to 1,710 rupiah and Bank Rakyat declined 5.5 percent to 5,200 rupiah.

-- Manila slumped 3.40 percent, or 172.24 points, to 4,890.20.

SM Corp. fell 4.62 percent to 660 pesos and Philippine Long Distance Telephone was down 0.83 percent at 2,400 pesos but Calata Corp. bucked the trend to gain 8.86 percent to 23.95 pesos.

-- Kuala Lumpur stocks ended down 18.41 points, or 1.17 percent, at 1,555.18.

Plantation giant Sime Darby lost 0.41 percent to 9.63 ringgit, while telecommunications company Axiata Group Bhd shed 0.56 percent to 5.33 ringgit. Cybertowers gained 0.75 percent to 1.34 ringgit.

-- Wellington and Bangkok were closed for public holidays.

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