ASIAN markets fell on Monday as concerns over the eurozone debt crisis overshadowed surprisingly good US jobs data, which showed unemployment close to a four-year low.
An underwhelming return for Shanghai after a week-long holiday added to the glum outlook for the day, while the euro erased gains made in New York on Friday.
Sydney eased 0.28 per cent, or 12.5 points, to 4,481.9, while Seoul closed off 0.67 per cent, or 13.28 points, at 1,981.89.
Hong Kong was 0.89 per cent lower, shedding 187.82 points to 20,824.56, and Shanghai closed down 0.56 per cent, or 11.75 points, at 2,074.42
Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.
Wall Street gave an anaemic lead despite Labor Department figures showing the official jobless rate fell to 7.8 per cent in September, the lowest level since President Barack Obama took office in January 2009.
The data from its establishment survey was less buoyant, showing a modest 114,000 net new jobs produced.
But previous months were revised higher, underpinning the better showing in the September data.
US investors initially sent shares soaring after the numbers were released before those gains were wiped out.
The Dow closed up 0.26 per cent, the S&P 500 ended flat and the Nasdaq eased 0.42 per cent.
And while the closely-watched jobs data provided some hope for the world’s number one economy, the ongoing crisis in Europe continued to take its toll on sentiment.
There was a cautious tone as the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) was to launch later Monday with an inaugural board meeting, and European Union finance ministers were due to meet.
Last-minute disagreements over key ESM commitments have surfaced, with Germany, the Netherlands and Finland arguing that the fund should not be used to help banks already bailed out before it became operational.
This represents a potential blow for the likes of Ireland, which went bust after trying to keep its lenders afloat, and for Spain, which has also recapitalised some of its banks and secured 100 billion euros ($A129.27 billion) from its eurozone partners to do more.
There are concerns Greece will not get its next tranche of much needed bailout cash as it struggles to resolve differences with its EU, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund creditors over its austerity budget.
And despite its parlous finances, Spain continues to refuse to ask for a rescue that would also allow the ECB to enter the debt market to lower Madrid’s borrowing costs.
“We saw on Friday the jobs data come out that was in line with expectations in terms of the payrolls, and US unemployment ticked down… Focus has moved back towards Europe,” said Jason Hughes, head of premium client management for IG Markets Singapore.
“It looks like we’re still going to have a wait-and-see approach from Spain. There isn’t much pressure in the secondary bond markets at the moment to cause them to need to really act quickly.”.
The euro was trading at $1.2973 compared with $1.3031 late Friday in New York, while it was at 101.58 yen, from 102.48 yen.
The single currency lost the advances it had made on Friday in the wake of the US jobs data.
The dollar fetched 78.31 yen from 78.64 yen.
Shanghai’s negative return also weighed on Hong Kong dealers, with expectations dashed that a slight uptick in manufacturing activity would spur buying on the mainland.
On oil markets New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in November, shed $1.38 to $88.50 a barrel in the late afternoon. Brent North Sea crude for November fell $1.12 to $110.90.
Gold was at $1,768.52 at 0810 GMT compared with $1,789.90 on Monday.
In other markets:
– Taipei fell 0.97 per cent, or 74.76 points, to 7,615.89.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co shed 2.09 per cent at Tw$89.1 while Hon Hai Precision was 1.88 per cent lower at Tw$88.7.
– Manila closed 0.11 per cent lower, shedding 5.71 points to 5,434.13.
Bank of the Philippine Islands slipped 1.86 per cent to 79.10 pesos while Megaworld Corp gained 2.11 per cent to 2.41 pesos.
Metropolitan Bank and Trust fell 0.48 per cent to 92.45 pesos.
– Wellington rose 0.49 per cent, or 19.05 points, to 3,923.91.
Contact Energy was up 2.43 per cent at NZ$5.47 and Fletcher Building gained 0.13 per cent to close at NZ$7.48.