Thursday, a report from Hudson, a recruitment services provider, showed that hiring expectations for the second quarter fell in all four Asian markets surveyed, including China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore.

China showed the highest expectations, with 30% forecasting headcount to rise in the second quarter. On the other hand, the proportion of respondents expecting to cut staff has jumped to 21% from 8%.

At the same time, Hong Kong showed the lowest hiring expectations since the fourth quarter of 1998, when the Hudson Report started, with about 14% expecting to hire in the second quarter.

In other news, the monetary base in Japan was up 6.9% on-year in March to JPY 94.46 trillion, the Bank of Japan said. That's up from JPY 93.65 trillion yen in February, which saw a 6.4% annual increase.

Banknotes in circulation were up 0.8% on-year, while coins in circulation were down 0.1%. Seasonally adjusted, the monetary base was up 5.6% on-month at JPY 94.3 trillion.

Japanese investors bought a net JPY 663.1 billion in foreign bonds for the week ending March 28, the Ministry of Finance said. Japan residents also purchased a net JPY 246.4 billion in foreign stocks last week, the data showed. Foreigners sold a net JPY 189.7 billion in Japanese stocks, and JPY 719.8 billion in foreign bonds.

The Bank of Korea said South Korea's foreign exchange reserves increased 2.3% month-on-month in March to US$ 206.34 billion. In February, it was US$ 201.54 billion.

India's inflation rose slightly to 0.31% for the week ended March 21 from a record low of 0.27% in the previous week, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry said. Economists had predicted inflation to slow to 0.2%. A year ago, the rate of inflation was 7.85% in the corresponding week.

Hong Kong's Census and Statistics Department announced that the retail sales value dropped 12.6% to HK$ 19.9 billion in February, in contrast to the 7.4% rise seen in the previous month. Economists were looking for a decline of 2%. Meanwhile, the volume of retail sales dipped 13.8% annually in February, compared with a 5.4% increase in the preceding month. Economists expected retail sales to drop 3%.

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