Asian stock markets sagged on Monday after a disappointing U.S. jobs report sparked worries about the health of the world’s biggest economy.
The U.S. economy added 162,000 jobs in July, about 20,000 less than expected, while gains for the previous two months were revised down.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index in Tokyo fell 1 percent to 14,325.68 as the dollar hovered below 100 yen. A stronger yen makes Japanese products more expensive overseas and can hurt companies whose survival hinges on exports.
Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 fell 0.2 percent 5,105.80 as traders waited for the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monthly interest rate decision on Tuesday and the release of employment figures for July on Thursday. South Korea’s Kospi fell 0.2 percent to 1,919.11.
While the U.S. jobs report wasn’t encouraging, it did make it more likely that the Fed would take its time cutting back on its stimulus program.
The Fed has already stated its intention to eventually reduce the current $85 billion worth of bond purchases it makes every month. The Fed has been pumping money into the U.S. economy for over four years in an effort to keep interest rates down and help boost the economy. The program has been a boon to stocks, where investors have fled in search of higher returns.
The dollar fell against most currencies, a sign that some investors are betting the Fed may keep its monetary stimulus program at the current level for a little longer than expected. The stimulus lowers market interest rates, reducing the appeal of some dollar—denominated investments, such as Treasurys. That in turn weakens appetite for the dollar.
Benchmark crude for September delivery was up 4 cents to $106.98 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 95 cents to close at $106.94 per barrel on the Nymex on Friday.
In currencies, the euro was little changed at $1.3275 from $1.3274 late Friday. The dollar fell to 98.79 yen from 98.90 yen.