Hong Kong: Asian stock prices were mixed on Monday as worse than expected jobs data out of the United States rekindled concerns over the world’s biggest economy.
The dollar clawed back some losses against the yen and euro after tumbling Friday following the payroll figures.
Tokyo slipped 0.11%, or 11.09 points, to end at 10,167.23, while Sydney shed 0.12%, or 5.6 points, to 4,688.6 and Seoul ended off 0.18%, or 3.62 points, at 1,953.64.
Hong Kong gained 0.60% by the break, while Shanghai was 0.15% higher and Singapore rose 0.74%.
The US Labor Department said Friday that the economy created just 39,000 new jobs last month, well short of the 130,000 forecast by economists, while the unemployment rate jumped 0.2 points to 9.8%.
The news surprised markets after previous data on manufacturing, private-sector jobs and house sales all pointed to a recovery in the economy.
The jobs figures sparked speculation that the Federal Reserve may step up large-scale bond purchases, pumping cash into the economy. The possibility was welcomed by some traders but also put pressure on the greenback.
However, Phillip Securities analyst Phua Ming-Weii in Singapore said the report “underscores the fragility of this recovery, but it’s not a game changer to the overall story (as) the US recovery is ongoing, even if it’s at half the speed”.
And David Taylor, markets analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, said: “Traders essentially viewed the disappointing jobs number on Friday in the US as building another case for more stimulus measures.”
“The Federal Reserve has indicated they may go into bat again, and the market looks like it wants more,” he told Dow Jones Newswires.
The greenback picked up slightly in Tokyo morning trade after upbeat comments on the US economy from Federal Reserve head Ben Bernanke.
“It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll have a double dip recession,” Bernanke said in an interview with CBS’s “60 Minutes”, aired during morning trade in Tokyo, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
The euro fell to $1.3350, from $1.3415 late Friday in New York. The European single currency sat in the $1.32 range in Asian trade Friday.
The euro was at ¥110.67, from ¥110.82 yen last week.
The greenback rose against the Japanese currency to ¥82.90 from ¥82.58 in New York.
South Korean shares slipped after four consecutive gains last week as dealers brushed off news that Seoul had agreed a free-trade deal with the United States.
And in Sydney miner Riversdale bucked the broader market and soared 15.89% on news that it was in talks over a possible $3.51 billion buyout by Rio Tinto. However, Rio edged down 0.49%.
The weaker dollar sent the price of gold and oil higher.
New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for January delivery, gained 19 cents to $89.38 a barrel in the afternoon after closing at $89.19 on Friday, its highest since 9 October, 2008.
Brent North Sea crude for January advanced 20 cents to $91.62 after it also hit two-year highs on Friday.
Gold opened at $1,410.00-1,411.00 an ounce in Hong Kong, up from Friday’s close of $1,391.00-1,392.00.