HONG KONG (AFP) – Asian markets sank Thursday following a heavy sell-off on Wall Street as a mixed bag of data raised concerns about the global economy, while the dollar tumbled a day after breaking 110 yen for the first time in six years.
Traders are now awaiting a European Central Bank (ECB) policy meeting later in the day and the release of US jobs figures on Friday.
Tokyo tumbled 2.61 per cent, or 420.26 points, at 15,661.99 and Seoul lost 0.77 per cent, or 15.38 points, to close at 1,976.16 and Sydney eased 0.68 per cent, or 36.43 points, to 5,297.7.
Hong Kong, Shanghai and Mumbai were closed for public holidays. A pro-democracy campaign in Hong Kong is also being closely tracked.
Protest leaders have called for the leader of the financial hub to stand down by the end of the day or they will step up their demonstration, which has so far been largely peaceful.
US shares suffered heavy losses Wednesday after the Commerce Department said construction spending in August fell unexpectedly, while a separate report showed manufacturing activity slowed in September.
The Dow tumbled 1.40 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 1.32 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 1.59 per cent.
Adding to nervousness was news of the first Ebola case in the United States.
Investors were unmoved by figures showing US private-sector employment increased 213,000 last month.
The main focus of attention is Friday’s non-farm payrolls report, which is used as a barometer of the health of the world’s number one economy. A strong result could be seen as giving the Federal Reserve more room to increase interest rates sooner than its mid-2015 forecast.
On currency markets the greenback also sank in New York, ending the day at 108.91 yen, well down from the 110.09 yen it touched earlier in Tokyo – the first time it had breached 110 yen since August 2008.
In afternoon trade Thursday it was at 108.77 yen.
The euro was also struggling ahead of the ECB meeting, which comes days after data showed inflation at its lowest level in five years, fuelling deflation fears and calls for fresh easing measures.
The euro bought $1.2626 and 137.53 yen against $1.2624 and 137.48 yen in US trade.
On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for November delivery slipped three cents to $90.70 while Brent crude for November eased 10 cents to $94.06 in afternoon trade.
Gold was at $1,217.11 an ounce against $1,213.29 late Wednesday.