Asian Stocks Fall On Poor U.S. Jobs Data

09/04/2011 11:35 pm ET | Updated Nov 04, 2011

BANGKOK — Asian stock markets took a beating Monday after U.S. job creation ground to a halt in August, reviving fears of a recession in the world's largest economy.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average was down 1.7 percent at 8,797.89 with sentiment also undermined by the persistent strength of the yen against the dollar, which hurts exporters.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 2.2 percent to 4,148.50 and South Korea's Kospi slid 3 percent to 1,811.44. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 2.2 percent to 19,768.09. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan, the Philippines and mainland China were also down.

Companies that particularly count on brisk economic growth to fuel their revenues were hit hard. Japan's Hitachi Construction Machinery lost 4.2 percent. Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. tumbled 4.7 percent.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 2.2 percent lower Friday, wiping out its gain for the week, on the heels of the dismal jobs report.

The Labor Department reported that no jobs were added in the U.S. in August. It was the worst employment report in 11 months and renewed fears that another recession could be on the way.

The lack of hiring in the U.S. last month surprised investors. Economists were expecting 93,000 jobs to be added. Previously reported hiring figures for June and July were revised lower. The average work week declined and hourly earnings fell. The unemployment rate held steady at 9.1 percent. The rate has been above 9 percent in all but two months since May 2009.

The Dow Jones industrial average lost 253.31 points to close at 11,240.26. It was the biggest fall in two weeks. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 2.5 percent to 1,173.97. The Nasdaq composite fell 2.6 percent to 2,480.33.

The sour jobs report came on top of Europe's debt problems, which are still dragging on. Meanwhile, China's economy is showing signs of slower growth.

Those problems could weaken global demand for many kinds of commodities including oil and metals. Inpex Corp., Japan's leading energy explorer, sank 3.1 percent. Hong Kong-listed China National Offshore Oil Corp. plummeted 7.7 percent.

Investors seeking a relatively stable store of value during times of economic turbulence in financial markets have been scooping up gold, sending its price up 50 percent over the past year. As such, gold-related shares were among the few posting gains Monday. Australia's Newcrest Mining Ltd., the country's top gold miner, rose 1.6 percent.

In currencies, the euro weakened to $1.4165 from $1.4187 in New York late Friday. The dollar was little changed at 76.73 yen from 76.72 yen. Last month, the dollar fell under 76 yen, which was a new post-World War II high for the Japanese currency.

Benchmark oil for October delivery was down 65 cents to $85.80 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude fell $2.48 to settle at $86.45 on Friday.

In London, Brent crude for October delivery was down 75 cents at $111.58 on the ICE Futures exchange.