Asian markets fall again with US jobs data in focus, STI down 0.9%

A businessman points at a monitor displaying information of Tokyo's Nikkei Stock Average during an afternoon trading session in Tokyo, Japan, on July 6.
A businessman points at a monitor displaying information of Tokyo's Nikkei Stock Average during an afternoon trading session in Tokyo, Japan, on July 6.PHOTO: EPA

HONG KONG (AFP) - Asian markets fell Friday (July 8) at the end of a volatile week dominated by the fallout from Britain's European Union exit, with investors now turning their attention to the release of US jobs data.

The June non-farm payrolls figures from Washington will be pored over for clues about the Federal Reserve's interest rate plans in light of the Brexit vote, following a surprisingly low reading in May.

They come after a week of losses in stocks around the world, after the head of the Bank of England said the risks of leaving the EU were "crystalising" and British property investment funds suspended client withdrawals to prevent a run on them.

"While a strong June report is not going to ring alarm bells for an imminent rate hike, strong print tells the market that when the post-Brexit dust settles, the door will be open for the Fed to resume a path of interest rate normalisation," said Stephen Innes, senior trader at OANDA Asia Pacific.

Tokyo fell 0.9 per cent, while Hong Kong was off 1.1 per cent by the break and Shanghai also 0.9 per cent lower.

Singapore's Straits Times Index was down 0.86 per cent at 2,837.58 as of 12:59 pm.

Seoul lost 0.7 per cent and Sydney also inched down.

On currency markets the lingering fear of riskier assets weighed down the US dollar against the safe-haven yen, while the greenback climbed against emerging market and higher-yielding units.

The dollar was trading at 100.31 yen, from 100.76 yen in US trade, with traders guessing as to whether Japan's central bank will step in to protect the country's exporters from the impact of a stronger currency.

Australia's dollar eased 0.3 per cent against the US unit, while the South Korean won was down 0.5 per cent and Indonesia's rupiah shed 0.4 per cent.

Britain's pound edged up to US$1.2953, unable to break above the US$1.30 mark but stronger than the 31-year low of US$1.2798 touched Wednesday.

Oil prices bounced back slightly Friday after a mauling the day before fuelled by a smaller-than-expected fall in US inventories.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate added one per cent to US$45.58 and Brent rose 1.2 per cent to US$46.96.

WTI fell 4.8 per cent Thursday and Brent shed 4.9 per cent.