HONG KONG: Asian markets fell Friday as apparently coordinated action by Europe and China to stimulate the global economy failed to reassure wary investors ahead of US jobs data due later in the day.
The Nikkei 225 index on the Tokyo stock exchange was down 0.36 per cent at 9,047.46 points, Hong Kong fell 0.33 per cent to 19,743.92 and Sydney was 0.49 per cent lower at 4,148.8.
Shanghai was down 0.55 per cent at 2,189.249 points and Seoul was off 0.75 per cent at 1,861.42.
The European Central Bank Thursday trimmed eurozone borrowing costs by a quarter of a percentage point to 0.75 per cent, in a widely anticipated move, and Denmark followed suit, cutting its key rate by 0.25 per cent.
Shortly beforehand, the Bank of England announced it was keeping its main interest rate at a record low 0.50 per cent and said it would increase its quantitative easing stimulus policy by $78 billion to boost Britain’s recession-hit economy.
The Bank of China also trimmed rates for the second time in a month, a surprise move that analysts said may indicate the world's second-biggest economy is slowing more quickly than expected.
Markets were disappointed that the widely expected ECB move was not accompanied by additional stimulus measures to tackle the eurozone crisis.
China’s central bank did not immediately provide a reason for its surprise rate cut, but analysts said the move could signal that second quarter data due to be released next week could be worse than expected.
Cautious investors were also awaiting the June US labour report for signs about the state of the world’s largest economy, and whether it would prompt the US Federal Reserve to step in with fresh easing measures.
“Investors are in a wait-and-see mood now, with important US jobs data due later Friday,” Investrust CEO Hiroyuki Fukunaga told Dow Jones Newswires.
On Wall Street, traders shrugged off the rate moves in Europe and China to focus on US data showing weakness in consumer spending.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average ended down 0.36 per cent, or 47.15 points, at 12,896.67 on Thursday.
The S&P 500-stock index lost 0.47 per cent, or 6.44 points, to 1,367.58, while the tech-rich Nasdaq added a bare 0.04 points to 2,976.12.
Concern was spurred by the ICSC June sales report showing same-store sales for big retailers excluding Walmart were only up 0.2 per cent from a year ago, a third straight month of weak growth.
On currency markets the euro lost more ground in Asian trade Friday.
The common currency was changing hands at $1.2377 in Tokyo morning trade, down from $1.2391 in New York late Thursday.
Against the yen, the euro dipped further to 98.97 yen, from 99.00 yen in US trade.
The dollar was at 79.97 yen, up from 79.88 yen in New York trade.
Oil was lower in Asian trade, with New York’s main contract, light sweet crude for August delivery, shedding 36 cents to $86.86 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for delivery in August sliding 73 cents to $99.97.
Gold was worth $1,606.30 an ounce at 1125 GMT, compared with $1,618.30 late Thursday.