* MSCI Asia ex-Japan falls 0.8 pct, Nikkei slips to 1-month
* U.S. stock futures point to lower open
* Oil futures drop more than $1 from Thursday settlements
* Dollar hits 1-month low vs yen
* European markets closed Monday
By Mike Peacock and Chikako Mogi
LONDON/TOKYO, April 9 Asian shares fell and U.S.
stock futures pointed lower on Monday in holiday-thinned trade
after a sharp slowdown in U.S. jobs growth raised concerns about
the strength of the world's largest economy.
Oil, which has climbed nearly $20 this year on worries that
a standoff between Tehran and the West would escalate and
disrupt oil exports from the Middle East, dropped more than a
dollar after Tehran agreed to resume talks on its nuclear
Brent crude was down $1.19 a barrel to $122.24 by
1110 GMT after slipping below $122 earlier in the day. U.S. oil
traded $1.46 a barrel lower at $101.85.
"The talks are good news. They are going to ease some stress
from the oil market but not enough to bring oil below its
current trading range," said Ken Hasegawa, a commodity
derivatives manager at Newedge Brokerage in Tokyo.
Some Asian markets, including Australia and Hong Kong, and
all major European markets were closed. For most of those that
were open, economic data past, present and future set the tone.
Friday's report showed U.S. payrolls grew by 120,000 in
March, the smallest rise since October, prompting investors to
curb risk exposure ahead of more U.S. data and earnings as well
as key figures from China this week.
Gold inched up after the lacklustre U.S. jobs report
revived hopes for further monetary easing while a spike in
Chinese prices burnished the precious metal's appeal as an
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan
slipped 0.8 percent near to a four-week low hit
last week. Japan's Nikkei average closed down 1.5
percent, with a firmer yen also dampening sentiment.
U.S. equities have rallied sharply in recent months, gaining
nearly 30 percent since early October to push the S&P 500 near
four-year highs. The market has stalled in the last few weeks as
investors question the swiftness of the gains and whether
economic data is strong enough to warrant higher stock prices.
"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
China's annual inflation rate jumped to 3.6 percent in
March, with volatile food prices leading a temporary rebound
that pushed costs above expectations but left intact the view
that Beijing has enough flexibility to ease monetary policy to
"There are mixed views on the data. My view is that any
reserve requirement ratio cuts would not come in April as a
result of the data," said Chen Yi, analyst at Xiangcai
Securities in Shanghai, referring to the reserve requirement
ratio for banks, a key policy tool used by the central bank.
Data due this week from China, the world's second-largest
economy after the United States, include trade on Tuesday and
first-quarter gross domestic product on Friday.
China's economy likely grew at its slowest pace in nearly
three years between January and March at a rate of just 8.3
percent, a Reuters poll estimates, still well above the
government's full-year growth target of 7.5 percent and pointing
to a soft landing for the economy.
The dollar extended its loss against the yen to hit a
one-month low of 81.19 yen, but was up 0.3 percent
against the euro at $1.3074.
The dollar may remain pressured as currency speculators
trimmed their long positions 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 takes a view its value will rise.
Barclays Capital analysts said it was too early to conclude
U.S. jobs growth had entered a falling trend as cyclical sectors
such as manufacturing and leisure remained relatively strong.
In the week to come, U.S. markets will focus on the company
reporting season, with earnings likely rising 3.2 percent for
the first quarter. But that figure dwindles to 1.8 percent on
the year when excluding Apple Inc, the world's biggest
company by market value.