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Asia stocks plunge on weak U.S. jobs report; Nikkei tumbles 1.75%

Stock MarketsJun 04, 2012 02:42AM ET
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Investing.com - Asian stock markets were sharply lower on Monday, as investors cut their exposure to riskier assets following Friday’s disappointing U.S. employment data, which added to concerns over weakening global growth prospects.  

During late Asian trade, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index sank 2.2%, Australia’s ASX/200 Index dropped 1.95%, while Japan’s Nikkei 225 Index tumbled 1.75%.

U.S. stocks markets sold off on Friday after the Department of Labor said that the U.S. economy added just 69,000 jobs in May, the smallest increase in a year and far below expectations for a gain of 150,000.

The unemployment rate unexpectedly ticked up to 8.2% from 8.1%, the first increase in 11 months.

The jobs report came after downbeat manufacturing data from China and Europe, which further added to concerns over faltering global growth.

Meanwhile, ongoing concerns over Spain’s deteriorating fiscal health and mounting fears over a potential Greek exit from the euro zone also weighed on appetite for riskier assets.

In Tokyo, the Nikkei fell on the back of steep losses in exporters with high exposure to Europe, as a strengthening yen and weaker euro hurt the outlook for export earnings.

Shares in Mazda, the Japanese carmaker with the highest proportion of European sales, plummeted 7.3%, Honda Motors slumped 3.7%, Canon shares declined 5.15%, while office equipment maker Ricoh dropped 4%.

Shares of beaten-up consumer electronics manufacturers Sony and Panasonic continued to slide after recent steep falls, with both firms’ shares renewing 32-year lows. Sony shares fell 1.7%, while Panasonic traded down 2.2%.

Shares in the financial sector also contributed to losses, with Nomura Holdings sinking 4% and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group down 1.8%.

On the upside, Renesas Electronics surged 13.3% after the Nikkei business daily reported over the weekend that the firm and some of its shareholders were discussing a possible restructuring plan.

The Nikkei is down almost 19% since hitting a one-year high on March 27, after rallying more than 19% in the first three months of the year, as China’s economic growth slowed and on renewed concern about Europe’s debt crisis.

Meanwhile, in Hong Kong, shares continued to decline on concerns over a deeper-than-expected slowdown in China and amid fading hopes for a large-scale stimulus package to boost slowing growth in the world’s second largest economy.

Raw material producers were lower, tracking steep losses in oil and copper prices. Shares in oil giants PetroChina and CNOOC slumped 1.45% and 3.35% respectively, while copper miner Jiangxi Copper Company fell 3.6% and Aluminum Corporation of China, or CHALCO, declined 2.8%.

Hong Kong-based exporters with high exposure to Europe were weaker, with Esprit Holdings dropping 4.1% and Li & Fung retreating 3.6%.

Losses for insurance giants Ping An and China Life further weighed on the Hong Kong bourse, with Ping An dropping 5.85% and China Life losing 4.85%.

Elsewhere, shares in Australia were weighed by steep losses in mining heavyweights Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton, which declined 4.6% and 3.1% respectively.

Lenders were also weaker, with National Australia Bank down 1.7%, ANZ Banking Group declining 1.65% and Commonwealth Bank of Australia slumping 1.2%.

Looking ahead, the outlook for European stock markets was downbeat, amid as sustained concerns over the euro zone.

The EURO STOXX 50 futures pointed to a loss of 0.8%, France’s CAC 40 futures fell 0.6%, London’s FTSE 100 futures declined 0.75%, while Germany's DAX futures pointed to a loss of 1% at the open.

Trade volumes were expected to remain light on Monday, as markets in the U.K. were to remain closed for a national holiday.

Asia stocks plunge on weak U.S. jobs report; Nikkei tumbles 1.75%

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