Bangkok: Asian stock markets fell in holiday-thinned trade Monday after a slowdown in US hiring added to evidence that the recovery in the world’s biggest economy is weakening.
Oil prices hovered above $100 a barrel while the dollar was down against the euro and the yen.
Markets in Hong Kong, South Korea and mainland China were among those closed for holidays.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 was down 0.9% to 9,403.06, with shares of Tokyo Electric Power Co., the Japanese utility battling to bring a crippled nuclear power plant under control, plunging 24%.
The tumble comes a day after Tepco acknowledged that 1,500 more tons of radioactive water were being moved into temporary storage at its Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant in an attempt to prevent a massive spill of contaminated water into the environment.
More than 100,000 tons of radioactive water have pooled beneath the plant in northeastern Japan since it was hobbled by an earthquake and tsunami on 11 March.
Meanwhile, gaming giants Sony Corp. and Nintendo Corp. lost ground as they scrambled to recover from attacks by unidentified hackers. Sony dropped 2.2% and Nintendo was down 1.1%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index lost 0.8% to 4,566.90, with industrial and mining shares broadly lower.
BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, was down 0.6%, while Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. lost 1.1%.
On Wall Street on Friday, a weak employment report spurred another stock sell-off, two days after the Dow Jones industrial average had its worst drop in nearly a year. The Dow lost 0.8% to close at 12,151.26.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 index fell 1% to 1,300.16. The Nasdaq composite fell 1.5% to 2,732.78. Employers added only 54,000 new workers in May, the fewest in eight months and well below what analysts were expecting, the Labor Department reported.
Private companies hired the fewest new workers in nearly a year. The unemployment rate inched up to 9.1% from 9%. The Labor Department’s closely watched monthly jobs report reinforced earlier signals that the US economy is slowing.
High gas and food prices have cut into consumer spending and the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan have hurt US manufacturers by slowing down supplies of industrial parts. Benchmark oil for July delivery was down 7 cents to $100.15 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
The contract fell 18 cents to settle at $100.22 on Friday. In currencies, the euro rose to $1.4640 after hitting a one-month high of $1.4624 late Friday in New York. The dollar slipped to ¥80.22 from ¥80.26, the lowest level since mid-May.