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Asian Markets Are Weaker on Dismal US Jobs Report

CNBC.com
Friday, 3 Jul 2009 | 5:50 AM ET

Asian markets retreated Friday and the greenback edged up after a disappointingly big drop in U.S. employment prompted investors to pull back from commodities, resource-linked shares and higher-yielding currencies.

But the equity market decline across Asia was limited as the report showing that U.S. companies slashed nearly half a million jobs in June did not shake hopes that a slow recovery is under way.

The U.S. Labor Department reported that employers cut a larger-than-expected 467,000 jobs in June. The U.S. unemployment rate climbed to a 26-year high of 9.5 percent.

The Australian dollar , whose 12 percent surge against the U.S. dollar this year has been closely tied to the four-month rally in stocks, edged up as the U.S. payrolls report had limited fallout. U.S. crude struck a one-month low to trade below $67 a barrel.

Nikkei 225 Average fell 0.6 percent but pared earlier losses marked after U.S. jobs data dented hopes for economic recovery, with retailers sliding after Seven & I Holdings posted poor results. Oil-linked shares fared badly after oil extended losses down
towards $66, while drugmaker Eisai fell after a brokerage downgrade.

South Korea's KOSPI finished 0.6 percent higher, rebounding from an early 1.6 percent drop, as gains by some technology and pharmaceutical issues lent support to the index.

Australian stocks fell 1.3 percent, their lowest close in over a week, with losses headed by
global miners BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto after gloomy jobs data in the U.S. cast doubt on the prospects for a global recovery. Rio shares dropped 4.2 percent after it resumed trade following a deeply discounted rights issue to raise $15.2 billion.

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Hong Kong shares reversed their downward course to claw back a 0.1 percent gain, snapping a three-day losing spell, as Chinese insurers climbed, tracking strong gains on the mainland markets. Casino operator Melco International Development dropped 5.8 percent after Credit Suisse cut its rating on the stock, and on shares of its 34.06 percent owned associate Melco Crown Entertainment to "underperform" from "neutral" following the below-expectations debut of its new casino in Macau.

Singapore's Straits Times Index closed 0.9 percent lower, in line with the rest of the region. The fall in these sectors was mostly driven by weak sentiment arising from the uncertain future of the global economy. Among property stocks, City Development shed 0.6 percent while
CapitaLand also finished down 0.6 percent. DBS, southeast Asia's largest bank by assets, fell half a percent.

China's Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.9 percent and scored a 5.5 percent weekly gain, the best in eight weeks, with coal and property shares strong as brisk lending growth and rising power output boosted optimism over the economy. Coal stocks rose after a news report that China's power output in June increased 3.6 percent from a year earlier, its first increase since
October. The world's most valuable coal miner China Shenhua rose 2.3 percent while Shenhua Energy gained 5.2 percent.