HONG KONG - Asian markets fell on Thursday as a batch of strong US data fuelled expectations the Federal Reserve will start to wind down its stimulus measures as early as this month.
Japanese shares were sold for a second straight session on the back of a strengthening yen after it touched six-month lows against the dollar earlier in the week, while flag-carrier Qantas dragged on Sydney after it announced a massive jobs cull.
Tokyo slipped 0.52 per cent, Hong Kong lost 0.41 per cent, Sydney shed 0.59 per cent, Seoul was 0.11 per cent lower and Shanghai was flat.
Wall Street closed broadly lower after payrolls firm ADP said US private-sector hiring surged in November, creating a net 215,000 new jobs, the strongest month so far in 2013 and well up from the 184,000 in October.
The figures suggest Friday's closely watched official non-farm payrolls for November will also be strong.
There is a growing expectation that the upbeat data in recent months will persuade the Fed to start cutting back on its $85 billion-a-month bond-buying scheme, which has supported the US economy and helped fuel a global equities rally.
The bank has said a strong jobs market is essential to its decision-making on the future of the stimulus.
In New York trading the Dow fell 0.16 per cent and the S&P 500 slipped 0.13 per cent, but the Nasdaq was flat.
Also Wednesday, data showed the US trade deficit shrank in October and new-home sales rose 25.4 per cent rise from the previous month.
And the Fed said in its Beige Book report that the economy was growing at a "modest to moderate" pace in recent weeks and showed few weak spots, despite the October government shutdown.
The dollar bought 102.31 yen, compared with 102.32 yen in New York Wednesday afternoon. The greenback is well down from the 103.30 touched earlier this week, which was its highest since May.
The euro bought $1.3583 and 138.85 yen against $1.3591 and 139.06 yen.
In Sydney flag-carrier Qantas slumped 17 per cent after it said it was slashing 1,000 jobs and warned of "immense" challenges ahead, while flagging a shock half-year loss of up to Aus$300 million (S$340 million).
Chief executive Alan Joyce said the airline was battling "extraordinary circumstances", including record fuel costs, a strong Australian dollar and fierce competition from subsidised rivals.
On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for January delivery, was up one cent at $97.21 in morning Asian trade while Brent North Sea crude for January eased 24 cents to $111.64.
Gold fetched $1,238.40 per ounce at 0220 GMT compared with $1,212.30 on Wednesday.