Asian stock markets declined Monday despite the better-than-expected U.S. jobs data as concerns over the global economic growth and corporate earnings outlook weighed on the sentiment.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged 0.91 percent or 190.77 points to 20821.61 and Chinese Shanghai Composite fell 0.56 percent or 11.75 points to 2,074.42 while South Korea's Seoul Composite declined 0.67 percent and India's benchmark BSE Sensex plunged 0.78 percent. Japanese markets are closed for holiday.
Markets opened on a negative note despite the official data Friday showed that the U.S. unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to a near four-year low in September. The U.S. Labor Department reported that unemployment rate in the world’s largest economy fell to 7.8 percent in September, the lowest level since President Barack Obama took office, while 114,000 new non-farm jobs were added in September, slightly better than Reuters’ estimate of 113,000 jobs.
Market sentiment was weighed down by the continuing uncertainty over the global growth. The World Bank cut its growth forecast for East Asia and Pacific region Monday and warned that the slowdown in China could get worse and last longer than what is expected now due to the uncertain global economic outlook. The World Bank currently expects China’s 2012 GDP growth to be at 7.7 percent, down from its prior estimation of 8.2 percent in May.
"We've arrived at one of the sorts of levels where the market needs to see a bit more evidence of a medium-term outlook before it takes prices much beyond current levels," Ric Spooner, chief market analyst at CMC Markets in Sydney, told Reuters.
Meanwhile, a private sector survey showed that China's services industry rose in September after it declined to a one-year low in August. The HSBC services sector Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 54.3 in September from 52 in August, indicating improvement in the business activity.
However, the latest services data contradicted the nation's official survey of services businesses released last week. The government-backed survey showed that the non-manufacturing sector growth declined in September to the slowest pace in nearly two years, raising the concerns about the slowdown in Asia's largest economy.
Market participants turned their attention to the U.S. as the earnings season is set to kick off with U.S. aluminum producer Alcoa slated to report quarterly results after the market closes Tuesday. According to Thomson Reuters’ data, S&P 500 earnings for the third quarter are forecast to have fallen 2.4 percent from the year-earlier period, which would be the first decline in three years.
Resource sector shares went down across the region. Zijin Mining Group Co Ltd. plunged 4.32 percent and Cnooc Ltd. fell 1.28 percent in Hong Kong while Zhongjin Gold Co Ltd plunged 2.91 percent in Shanghai.
In Seoul, Hyundai Heavy Industries Co Ltd. plunged 2.77 percent and Samsung Heavy Industries Co Ltd. fell 2.45 percent while Samsung Electronics Co Ltd. gained 0.22 percent.