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Most Asian markets fall after overnight data makes US economy look weak

Most Asian markets fall after overnight data makes US economy look weak

Most Asian markets fell Friday after overnight U.S. jobs data and pessimistic comments by Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's reinforced the view that the world's largest economy may be headed into a recession.
The largest fall came on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, where the Nikkei 225 average fell 2.3 percent to 13,603.0. In Hong Kong, the blue-chip Hang Seng fell 1.1 percent to 24,331.7. Major indices fell in Australia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.
In Tokyo, exporters were the big losers as the yen climbed to its highest level against the dollar in nearly three year after Bernanke said large U.S. banks will likely recover from the recent credit crisis, while other banks are at risk of failing.
Shares dropped on Wall Street as Bernanke's comments stirred concerns, with the Dow Jones industrial average losing 0.9 percent.
Also, U.S. government data showed jobless claims increased more than expected in the week ended Feb. 23, and economic growth for the fourth quarter was left unrevised at a low level.
"These data and remarks have underscored the U.S. economy's weakness and doubts about the dollar," said Minoru Shioiri, senior manager of foreign exchange at Mitsubishi UFJ Securities.
Market observers say that while many Japanese exporters are setting their exchange rates for the next fiscal year around 105 yen, further depreciation in the dollar could take a severe toll on them. A strong yen makes their exports less competitive overseas and reduces the value of repatriated earnings.
Toyota Motor fell 2.7 percent and Mazda Motor shed 5.6 percent.
Real estate and banking sector issues also fell. Mizuho Financial Group slipped 6.3 percent and Sumitomo Realty & Development fell 6.4 percent.
Hong Kong shares dropped as traders sold local property companies after the sector posted strong gains over the last four sessions. The worries over the U.S. economy also dragged on the market.
Sino Land slid 4.6 percent, Henderson Land declined 3 percent and Sun Hung Kai Properties fell 2.1 percent. Property shares had been rising the past few session on expectations of further interest rate cuts to shore up the U.S. economy. Hong Kong's monetary authority usually follows rate moves in the U.S. because of the local currency's peg to the greenback.
Traders said the market will likely be cautious Monday ahead of bank HSBC's results, which are scheduled to be disclosed after the market closes. HSBC fell 1.9 percent to HK$120.70.
Meanwhile, Chinese stocks rose as the approval of a new fund boosted sentiment and money locked in subscriptions to a share offering by China Railway Construction returned to the market.
The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index climbed 1.1 percent to 4,348.5.
Among the blue chip gainers, SAIC Motor, which fell sharply early this week, rose 1.6 percent and Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China rose 1.7 percent.
Airlines rose due to the strengthening Chinese currency, which helps reduce their U.S.-dollar denominated debt.
Shanghai Airlines rose 5.3 percent and Air China rose 6.1 percent.
In Tokyo currency trading, the dollar fell to 104.37 yen at 4:50 p.m. (0750 GMT) Friday in Tokyo, down from 105.36 yen late Thursday in New York. The euro fell to US$1.5216 from US$1.5229.


Updated : 2021-03-02 01:20 GMT+08:00