The dollar fell and Asian stocks steadied near three-week lows on Monday after weaker-than-expected U.S. jobs data heightened investor caution ahead of the third-quarter corporate results season.

Crude oil prices held below $70 a barrel, and copper prices languished near two-month lows as the weak data showed the pace and scope of economic recovery remained uncertain.

U.S. employers cut 263,000 jobs in September, more than in August and the 21st straight monthly decline, Labor Department data on Friday showed.

Investors, banking on a solid bounce from the world's worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, had pushed MSCI's All Country World index <.MIWD00000PUS> to a 12-month high earlier this month, up as much as 70 percent from its March low.

While the (U.S. jobs) data was bad and optimism about the U.S. economy may have receded, I do not think market players think that this means that the outlook for the U.S. economy is ruined, said Hideyuki Ishiguro, supervisor at Okasan Securities' investment strategy department in Japan.

I think it just means market sentiment has returned to neutral for the time being, Ishiguro added.

Tokyo's Nikkei average <.N225> was barely above breakeven, while MSCI's index of stocks elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific <.MSCIAPJ> rose 0.2 percent by 0300 GMT.

Investors were also wary ahead of the start of the third-quarter corporate earnings season, which kicks off in the United States this week. Cost cutting helped second-quarter results largely beat expectations, but analysts are now looking for more sustainable signs of improving revenues.


With growing jobless numbers putting further pressure on consumer spending, U.S. interest rates were expected to remain low for the foreseeable future, weighing on the U.S. dollar.

In contrast, the Australian dollar rose ahead of a meeting of the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday after two influential columnists wrote that there was a real chance of an interest rate rise this week, sooner than many have been expecting.

The Aussie traded around $0.8740, recouping most of Friday's sharp losses.

The dollar index <.DXY>, a measure of its performance against six major currencies, fell 0.3 percent, while the euro climbed to $1.4634 after ending at around $1.4575 on Friday.

The greenback, down 14 percent from its March high, got no fresh support from the Group of Seven finance ministers and central bankers. After a weekend meeting in Istanbul, they broke no new ground on currencies, urging China to strengthen the yuan to help correct global imbalances and saying too much foreign exchange volatility tended to threaten economic stability.

Analysts said it potentially left the dollar open to further weakness.

It was the usual mantra about FX volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates which we've seen time and time again, said Mitul Kotecha, global head of FX strategy at Calyon in Hong Kong.


Commodity markets tracked equities, as they have for much of the year.

The market is cautious after the poor U.S. jobs data on Friday. But the overall trend of an economic recovery hasn't changed and I think investors are using such weaker-than-expected data as an opportunity to take profits, said Ben Westmore, a commodities analyst at the National Bank of Australia.

U.S. light sweet crude was 5 cents weaker at $69.90, while three-month copper on the London Metal Exchange rose $16 to $5,895 a ton.

Doubts about economic recovery and profit-taking on riskier assets has boosted government bonds in recent sessions but looming supplies in the United States and Japan stalled the advance on Monday.

December 10-year Japanese government bond futures dipped 0.10 point to 139.51 as market players sold to hedge for a 2.1 trillion yen ($23.4 billion) 10-year auction on Tuesday.