Asian stock markets plunged Monday as weaker-than-expected US employment report and election results from Europe weighed on investor sentiment.
The Japanese benchmark Nikkei plunged 2.78 percent or 261.11 points to a three-month low of 9,119.14, Hong Kong's Hang Seng plunged 2.62 percent or 553.17 points to 20,532.83 and Indian benchmark BSE Sensex declined 1.63 percent while Chinese Shanghai Composite slipped 0.42 percent.
Concerns over the strength of economic recovery in the world's largest economy resurfaced after the US Labor Department said Friday that only 115,000 jobs were added in April. The figure was far below Thomson Reuters' estimation of 170,000 job gains in April.
The unemployment rate declined to 8.1 percent in April from 8.2 percent in March, the lowest since January 2009. But analysts said the decline was not because people had found jobs, but because more and more Americans had given up job search.
Meanwhile, the Eurozone debt crisis once again took the center stage over the weekend with François Hollande winning the French presidential elections, the first Socialist to lead the country in 17 years, and Greek voters flocking to anti-bailout parties.
Angry Greeks voted against the two major parties in the country, the New Democracy and the Socialist PASOK, which are backing the austerity measures and the bailout package.
The issue is that in Greece the outcome raises the level of uncertainty a lot, because it's not clear who can form the government or in fact how long they will last, and what their attitude to the current agreements that the Greek government had reached would be, Richard Yetsenga, Head of Global Markets at ANZ Research, told Reuters.
In France, Hollande, who has vowed to push for less austerity, was elected with 51.9 percent of the votes. He plans to raise taxes on big corporations and millionaires, lower the retirement age to 60 from 62, hike the minimum wage, and retract a recent sales-tax increase.
With growing influence of anti-austerity political blocs, tensions among the Eurozone will likely be intensified and a wave of renegotiations for bail-out programmes may be sparked, said a note from Credit Agricole.
Among stocks, exporter companies' shares led the declines in Japan as the yen strengthened against major counter-parts. Honda Motor Co slumped 5.61 percent and Sony Corp plunged 4.49 percent while Toyota Motor Corp plunged 2.96 percent.
Among the financials, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group fell 2.86 percent and Tokio Marine Holdings Inc. plunged 4.23 percent while Nomura Holdings Inc. slumped 7.35 percent.
China Vanke Co. declined 2.39 percent and Poly Real Estate Group Co. fell 0.77 percent in Shanghai on news that Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd had suspended a discount on mortgages for first-time home buyers nationwide, Bloomberg reported quoting Xinhua News Agency.