Asian stock markets declined for the fourth day on Monday as weaker-than-expected US employment report raised concerns about the strength of recovery in the world’s biggest economy.
The Japanese benchmark Nikkei plunged 1.47 percent or 142.19 points to 9,546.26 and Chinese Shanghai Composite declined 0.90 percent to 2,285.7, while South Korea's Seoul Composite slipped 1.57 percent or 31.95 points to 1,997.08.
The Labor Department said on Friday that only 120,000 jobs were added in March, far below expectations for a gain of 210,000 jobs. The unemployment rate, however, declined to 8.2 percent in March from 8.3 percent in February, the lowest since January 2009. But analysts say the decline was mainly due to more and more Americans having given up job search.
Meanwhile, China’s inflation rose to 3.6 percent in March from 3.2 percent in the previous month and against economists’ estimation of 3.3 percent, signaling that policy makers may exercise caution in adding stimulus to boost growth, Bloomberg reported.
Exporter companies’ shares led the decline in Tokyo as the yen reached the strongest level since March 8 after disappointing US jobs data. Toyota Motor Corp. declined 2.36 percent and Canon Inc. fell 1.69 percent, while Honda Motor Co slipped 2.43 percent.
In Shanghai, automobile, banking and property developer stocks were hurt. Construction Bank Corp. declined 1.27 percent and China Citic Bank Corp. fell 2.33 percent, while China Vanke Co and Gemdale Corp. declined more than 1.9 percent.
In Seoul, shipping, building and machinery companies’ shares led the downfall. STX Pan Ocean Ltd. plunged 4.72 percent and Hyundai Engineering & Construction plunged 4.49 percent, while Hanjin Shipping slumped 7.21 percent.