GLOBAL MARKETS-Asia shares skid to 4-week low, France downgrade gives euro fresh jolt

Fri Nov 8, 2013 1:33am EST

* Fed tapering talk may gain momentum if payroll data strong

* Wall Street shares tumble on weak earnings

* Surprise ECB rate cut hits euro but fails to boost shares

* US headline GDP beats expectations

* DAX, FTSE seen down as much as 0.5 pct, CAC 0.4 pct

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Asian shares slumped to a four-week low on Friday after Wall Street suffered its biggest fall in more than two months, as investors looked to the U.S. payrolls data for clues on when the Federal Reserve will scale back its stimulus.

The euro fell 0.2 percent after Standard and Poor's downgraded its credit rating on France's sovereign debt to AA from AA+.

The single currency fell to as low as $1.3389, though it still kept some distance from a seven-week low of $1.3295 hit on Thursday after the European Central Bank's surprise rate cut.

European shares were expected to follow suit, a day after they failed to sustain gains sparked by the ECB easing and weak earnings saw the Dow Jones slide 1.0 percent and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index 1.3 percent.

Germany's DAX and Britain's FTSE are both seen falling as much as 0.5 percent, while and France's CAC may fall 0.4 percent.

Data showing China's exports rose more than expected in October hardly eased investors' cautious mood, with the CSI300 of the leading Shanghai and Shenzhen A-share listings falling to two-month lows.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 0.5 percent and looked set for a loss of 1.7 percent on the week, while Japan's Nikkei average dropped 0.9 percent. Both indexes hit their lowest levels in about four weeks.

Global shares could face more pressure if the U.S. jobs report due at 1230 GMT shows that economic damage from a 16-day-long government shutdown last month was limited, fanning expectations of a reduction in the Federal Reserve's stimulus.

Economists forecast 125,000 jobs were created in October, slowing from 148,000 jobs in September.

"If we see job growth of around 200,000, then the markets will surely start to think about tapering in December," said a senior prop trader at a major Japanese bank.

Data on Thursday showed U.S. growth accelerated to 2.8 percent in July-September, well above economists' forecast of 2.0 percent growth. However, the data also showed that consumer spending growth was the slowest in two years and inventory increases accounted for much of the gains.

Still, the dollar strengthened on the U.S. data, with the dollar's index against a basket of major currencies hitting an eight-week high of 81.46 on Thursday. It last stood at 80.85 .

EMERGING-MARKET CURRENCIES

Some emerging-market currencies have been under pressure in the past two weeks as investors interpreted the Fed's policy statement at its latest meeting on Oct. 29-30 as less dovish than they had anticipated.

Brazil's real, the South African rand and the Chilean peso all hit two-month lows against the dollar on Thursday, although their Asian peers fared a bit better.

The dollar's strength suppressed oil prices, with Brent crude hitting a four-month low of $103.22 a barrel. Plentiful crude supplies, progress in talks over Iran's disputed nuclear programme and fall in China's crude imports all weighed on the prices.

U.S. Treasuries maintained gains made after the ECB's rate cut, with the 10-year bond yield standing at 2.60 percent , near this week's low.

While talk of tapering the Fed's stimulus is negative for bonds, the latest talking point in the bond sphere was research papers by Fed officials that make the case for promising to hold interest rates lower for longer.

The papers, published at a time when Fed Vice Chair Janet Yellen is preparing to succeed Ben Bernanke, are seen as a crucial guide to Yellen's thinking on monetary policy.

"Some Fed officials are keen not to expand its balance sheet. So the Fed could start reducing bond buying but it could instead reinforce its forward guidance," said Arihiro Nagata, chief of foreign bond trading at Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.

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