SYDNEY -- Asian markets skidded Monday as investors took their first chance to react to much weaker-than-expected US jobs data that raised fresh doubt about the health of the world's largest economy.
Japan's Nikkei Stock Average tumbled 2.1 percent, while the broader Topix also lost 2.1 percent to lows reportedly not seen since the 1980s.
South Korea's Kospi plunged 2.5 percent and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.6 percent to below the 4,000 mark for the first time since November.
The losses in Asia came on the heels of a terrible day for US stocks Friday, when all key benchmarks fell more than two percent and the Dow Jones Industrial Average gave up all of its gains for the year.
The US economy added just 69,000 jobs in May, the smallest net increase in non-farm payrolls in a year, the government reported. Economists surveyed by MarketWatch had expected a 165,000-job increase.
"It does now appear that the global slowdown, and events in Europe in particular, are beginning to have a more marked impact on the US economy," said economists at Capital Economics.
The yen moved higher against both the US dollar and the euro Friday. By early Monday, the dollar was trading below the key -78 level, although it soon inched back up to -78.02 -- still lower, however, than its -78.14 mark in late North American trading Friday.
Japanese exporters took a big hit, with Nikon Corp. down 6.4 percent, Mazda Motor Corp. dropping 5.3 percent and Toyota Motor Corp. sliding by four percent.
Likewise in Seoul, SK Hynix Inc. gave up 3.3 percent, and LG Display Co. lost 3.7 percent.
Energy firms were also hard-hit across Asia after crude oil futures took a tumble in New York on Friday, with JX Holdings Inc. down 3.8 percent and Inpex Corp. lower by three percent in Tokyo, while Woodside Petroleum Ltd. was off 2.4 percent and Beach Energy Ltd. was down 5.7 percent in Sydney.
Most Australian-listed miners also fell hard, with Fortescue Metals Group Ltd. down 3.7 percent and Rio Tinto Ltd. surrendering 2.6 percent.
However gold stocks benefited from the metal's biggest one-day rally since August in regular New York trading on Friday, after the weak US data raised hope for more quantitative easing from the Federal Reserve.
Among Australian gold miners, Newcrest Mining Ltd. climbed 4.2 percent and Perseus Mining Ltd. jumped 9.8 percent.
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