Asian shares mostly lower, US jobs data fuel stimulus talk

 Asian shares mostly lower, US jobs data fuel stimulus talk

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mostly down on Wednesday, while the dollar sank after weaker-than-expected US jobs data raised expectations the Federal Reserve will keep its stimulus programme in place.

The September report out of Washington showed the economy struggling to add jobs even before a two-week government shutdown this month that analysts say probably smothered hiring even more.

Tokyo tumbled 1.95 percent, or 287.20 points, to 14,426.05 as exporters were hit by a stronger yen, while Sydney fell 0.32 percent, or 17.0 points, to 5,356.1 and Seoul fell 0.99 percent, or 20.37 points, to 2,035.75.

Shanghai gave up 1.25 percent, or 27.54 points, to 2,183.11, while Hong Kong fell 1.36 percent, or 316.04 points, to 22,999.95.

However, emerging markets were higher on hopes for a continuation of the Fed's easy money programme, which has been credited with funding an investment splurge in developing economies.

Jakarta was up 0.87 percent, Manila rose 0.53 percent and Kuala Lumpur added 0.67 percent.

Bangkok was closed for a public holiday.

The Labor Department said on Tuesday that the world's number one economy added 148,000 jobs last month, well below forecasts for a gain of 180,000.

While the figures indicate a US recovery is still having trouble gaining traction, traders took it as a cue to buy as the Fed has said it will only reel in its $85 billion a month bond-buying scheme when the economy is strong enough.

"The limited job gain supports the view that the Federal Reserve will maintain its accommodative monetary policy stance into 2014," said Nick Bennenbroek of Wells Fargo Securities.

On Wall Street the Dow rose 0.49 percent, the S&P 500 - already at a record high - tacked on 0.57 percent and the Nasdaq climbed 0.24 percent.

"Stocks held gains in the US, but as shares in Asia started falling, risk-averse trading spread," said Akira Moroga, manager of forex products group at Aozora Bank.

Global markets - particularly in emerging economies - have been in turmoil since May when Fed boss Ben Bernanke indicated the stimulus, which provides cheap cash and fuelled an investment splurge, could be withdrawn soon.

However, recent weak numbers have forced the bank to put off any "tapering", while investors say the Washington debt ceiling row and government shutdown has made any such move this year even more unlikely.

The likelihood of a cut in bond purchases in the near future had already been lowered after US President Barack Obama nominated fiscal dove Janet Yellen - a fan of the "quantitative easing" scheme - to take over Bernanke's position in the new year.

Expectations the Fed will continue to print vast sums of cash well into 2014 put further downward pressure on the dollar.

In Tokyo the dollar was changing hands at 97.33 yen, from 98.12 in New York late Tuesday.

The euro bought $1.3753, down from $1.3780 late Tuesday in New York, where it peaked at $1.3792, its highest level since November 2011. The single currency also sat at 133.87 yen compared with 135.23 yen.

In oil trade, New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in December, shed 65 cents to $97.65, while Brent North Sea crude for December shed 60 cents to $109. 37.

Gold rose to $1,335.23 at 0800 GMT compared with $1,310.44 on Tuesday - with the weaker greenback making the dollar-priced precious metal more attractive.

In other markets:

- Taipei fell 0.29 percent, or 24.65 points, to 8,393.62.

Smartphone maker HTC fell 2.51 percent to Tw$136.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 0.45 percent lower at Tw$111.0.

- Wellington rose 0.92 percent, or 44.61 points, to 4,876.40.

Telecom added 3.52 percent to NZ$2.36, Fletcher Building edged up 0.21 percent to NZ$9.66 and Contact Energy was steady at NZ$5.20.

- Manila closed 0.48 percent higher, or 31.51 points, to 6,635.11.

SM Prime Holdings rose 3.09 percent to 17.36 pesos while Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. fell 0.42 percent to 2,856 pesos.

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