TOKYO - Global stock markets mostly fell Monday as investors fretted about a global economic slowdown after data showed U.S. employers added fewer jobs last month.
With much of Asia in holiday mode, attention focused on the discouraging U.S. employment figures for January released on Friday. U.S. employers added 151,000 jobs last month, a sharp deceleration from recent months as companies shed education, transportation and temporary workers. That was below economists' forecasts of 185,000 new jobs, according to a survey of analysts by financial data provider FactSet.
The employment report lends weight to the case for the Federal Reserve to delay interest rate hikes, which is a positive for stock markets, but also adds to signs of weakness in major economies.
"There seems little doubt that we have reached a key juncture for the world's financial markets and if confusion wasn't at fever pitch two weeks ago then things are even worse now," said Chris Weston, chief market strategist at IG in Melbourne, Australia. "All eyes will be on Janet Yellen's semi-annual testimony to Congress this week and there will be much focus on her vision around the impact tighter financial conditions have had on economics."
France's CAC 40 dropped 1.4 percent to 4,144.58 and Germany's DAX fell 1.2 percent to 9,162.65. Britain's FTSE 100 shed 1 percent to 5,792.60. U.S. shares set to fall. Dow futures retreated 0.5 percent to 16,044. S&P 500 futures lost 0.6 percent to 1,864.90.
Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 rose 1.1 percent to 17,004.30 while Australia's S&P/ASX 200 was flat at 4,975.40. Thailand's SET added 0.5 percent to 1,312.50. India's Sensex was down 0.6 percent at 23,459.99. Markets were closed in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines for Lunar New Year holidays. New Zealand's stock market was closed for a national holiday.
Benchmark U.S. crude inched up 9 cents to $30.97 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The futures contract fell 83 cents to $30.89 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils, was up 8 cents to $34.12 a barrel in London.
The dollar rose to 116.92 yen from 116.82 yen on Friday. The euro rose to $1.1179 from $1.1160.