Asia stocks slid on Friday after a warning from General Motors'
World stocks struck a six-year low <.MIWO00000PUS> as Japan's Nikkei average <.N225> fell about 3 percent in early trade, with shares in the country's big exporters and banks taking the biggest hit.
But most Asian equity markets held up better than their counterparts in the United States and Europe, thanks partly to lingering hopes that China will boost its planned $585 billion in stimulus spending to help offset the damage from collapsing exports.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific stocks outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> was down 0.9 percent compared with the 4.3 percent slump in the U.S. S&P 500 <.SPX> the previous day.
Australia's share market <.AXJO> fell 1.8 percent, while South Korea dropped 1.2 percent.
The deepening sell-off in major stock markets came before the U.S. payrolls report later in the day, which is expected to show companies slashed 648,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate jumped to a 25-year high of 7.9 percent.
Tonight's unemployment data is not going to be beautiful. Things are not going to improve quickly, said Lucinda Chan, division director at Macquarie Private Wealth in Sydney.
The dollar dipped slightly against major currencies, giving back some of its gains scored as the equity drop spurred buying of the safe-haven U.S. currency.
The dollar index, a gauge of its performance against six major currencies, dipped 0.1 percent to 89.019 <.DXY> but held near a three-year peak reached this week. Against the yen, the dollar edged up 0.3 percent to 98.35 yen.
Oil prices also pushed higher after tumbling 4 percent on Thursday on worries about demand as the deep global recession drags on. U.S. crude oil futures edged up 26 cents to $43.87 a barrel.
Safe-haven buying helped nudge the benchmark 10-year Japanese government bond yield down 1.5 basis points to 1.295 percent.
But U.S. Treasuries surrendered gains. The 10-year Treasury note> fell 7/32 in price to yield 2.839 percent, up