* MSCI Asia ex-Japan falls 0.6 pct, Nikkei slips to 1-month
* Oil futures fall over $1 from Thursday settlements
* Dollar hits 1-month low vs yen
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, April 9 Asian shares fell on Monday as a
sharp slowdown in U.S. jobs growth raised concerns about the
strength of the world's largest economy, prompting investors to
curb risk exposure ahead of more U.S. data and earnings as well
as figures from China this week.
Friday's data showed U.S. payrolls grew by 120,000 in March,
far below the expected gain of 203,000 jobs for the smallest
rise since October, keeping the door open for the Federal
Reserve to provide more monetary support to the fragile economy.
Industrial commodities such as copper and oil fell on growth
worries while the potential for more Fed easing helped gold
rebound but pressured the dollar.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan
slipped as much as 0.8 percent near a four-week
low hit last week. U.S. stock futures fell more than 1 percent
on Friday after the data.
Japan's Nikkei average slid as much as 1.6 percent
to a one-month low, with a firmer yen also dampening sentiment.
"Price actions after the jobs data show that markets had
been excessively pricing in the U.S. economic recovery and must
now fill the gap between the reality and prices built on
perceived strength of the economy," said Naohiro Niimura, a
partner at research and consulting firm Market Risk Advisory Co.
"Markets will continue to focus on global data this week to
gauge what price levels would match the real economy. With
questions raised about the pace of U.S. growth, the resurfacing
probability for further Fed stimulus will support risk assets,"
China's annual inflation spiked unexpectedly in March to 3.6
percent, above a 3.3 percent rise forecast, data showed on
Monday, but Beijing may not change the view that price pressures
are in retreat and support for a slowing economy is the top
priority. Producer prices eased 0.3 percent on the year,
compared with a 0.2 percent fall forecast.
"We see that pork prices have come down a bit so we think
this is a short-term rebound, the trend is still headed lower,"
said Li Wei, an economist at Standard Chartered in Shanghai.
Some Asian markets, including Australia and Hong Kong, and
European markets remain closed on Monday.
DEMAND OUTLOOK SOFTENS
Data due this week from China, the world's second-largest
economy after the United States, also include first-quarter
gross domestic product and trade balance.
"The weak U.S. data has revived hopes that the Fed could
again consider additional easing measures, and investors are
also looking forward to similar action from China with it
expected to post a trade deficit this week," said Gwak Jung-bo,
an analyst at Samsung Securities.
Shanghai copper fell as much as 0.9 percent earlier
on Monday before inching up 0.3 percent, but oil was weighed by
demand growth concerns, as well as easing worries about supply
Brent crude slipped more than $1 on Monday to as low as
$122.17 from Thursday's settlement at $123.43 per barrel as Iran
agreed to resume talks with top world powers this week on the
country's nuclear programme, raising hopes of a peaceful end to
the standoff that has rattled the oil market for months.
U.S. oil slipped as low as $101.87 from Thursday's
settlement at $103.31 a barrel. Oil markets were closed on
Friday due to Good Friday.
Spot gold was up 0.6 percent at $1,639.80 an ounce.
The dollar extended its loss against the yen on Monday to
hit a one-month low of 81.19 yen, but was up 0.2 percent
against the euro at $1.3058.
The dollar may still be pressured as currency speculators
trimmed their bets in favour of the unit in the latest week,
while net shorts on the yen shrank slightly from the previous
week. To be short a currency is to bet it will decline in value,
while being long is a view its value will rise.
Barclays Capital analysts said while the nonfarm payrolls
data undershot expectations, "job growth in cyclical sectors -
manufacturing, and leisure and hospitality - remained relatively
strong, suggesting that it is too early to conclude that
employment growth has shifted to a lower trend."
U.S. markets will focus on the beginning of the earnings
season, with earnings growth expected to be 3.2 percent for the
first quarter, but that figure falls to 1.8 percent on the year
when excluding Apple Inc, the world's biggest company
by market value.