Asian markets mostly down, STI ends flat

HONG KONG (AFP, REUTERS) - Asian markets ended mostly lower on Monday (Jun 5) as investors mulled over the impact of a weekend terror attack in London that saw the pound lose ground. A weaker-than-expected US employment report also weighed on markets, with wage growth and hiring coming in below expectations and testing confidence in the global outlook.

In Tokyo the Nikkei 225, which closed on Friday at its highest level for nearly two years, ended marginally down. Hong Kong ended 0.2 per cent lower and Shanghai closed down 0.5 per cent. Sydney was off 0.6 per cent while Seoul closed 0.1 per cent off.

Singapore's benchmark Straits Times Index ended 0.05 per cent down at 3,238.31.

"Ugly best describes Friday's US employment report as the headline miss was compounded by revisions lower to the previous two months data," said Mr Stephen Innes, senior trader at Oanda.

"The (job) numbers were solid enough to keep the (Federal Reserve) on track for a June hike, but not strong enough to erase uncertainties over the future Fed fund rate's path beyond June," Mr Rodrigo Catril, currency strategist at National Australia Bank, said in a commentary.

Despite rallies in US stocks, the lack of wage inflation in the report prompted a decline in US Treasury yields that led to the US dollar slipping across the board, analysts said. While Fed policymakers remain tight-lipped ahead of next week's rate decision, investors will have plenty to chew on in world politics in the coming days.

In South-east Asia, Malaysian shares rose for a second straight session to close at their highest in two years on April exports data.

April exports rose 20.6 per cent from a year earlier, the fifth straight month of double-digit growth, and slightly missed the 22.3 per cent growth forecast in a Reuters poll.

Philippine shares rose 1.2 per cent to close above the 8,000 level for the first time since August 2016.

Industrial and real estate stocks led the gains, with SM Investments Corp rising 2.9 per cent and SM Prime Holdings climbing 2.5 per cent. Vietnam shares gained 0.6 per cent with blue chip Vinamilk climbing to its highest since September 2016.

Meanwhile, Thai shares gave up early gains to end marginally lower, with energy stocks leading the decline.