Asian shares retreat after Wall St losses

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HONG KONG: Asian markets sank on 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.

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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 percent, or 420.26 points, at 15,661.99 and Seoul lost 0.77 percent, or 15.38 points, to close at 1,976.16 and Sydney eased 0.68 percent, 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 percent, the S&P 500 fell 1.32 percent and the Nasdaq lost 1.59 percent. 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.

AFP

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