Friday, September 2, 2011

ASIA-Shares look to soft start ahead of data

WELLINGTON: Asian stocks face a weak start on Friday, Sept 2 as Wall Street's four day winning streak came to an end amid uncertainty and caution ahead of key U.S. jobs numbers.

The main U.S. indexes closed between 1 percent and 1.3 percent lower, with banking stocks taking a hit, and investors looking pessimistically towards jobs data due later on Friday.

A decline in the employment component of the Institute for Supply Management's factory activity index heightened worries that August jobs growth will be weaker than feared.

ISM's factory activity index came in only just above the level that indicates growth.

In another discouraging sign, the White House cut its economic growth outlook for the next two years.

Asian stocks listed on Wall Street fell 0.9 percent, world stocks, as measured by the MSCI world equity index, eased 0.5 percent.

Britain's top shares gained 0.5 percent, while European shares were up 0.7 percent, led by gains in defensive stocks.

Japanese markets, which headed above the 9,000 level for the first time two weeks on Thursday, may struggle to hold let alone move higher from that level. Nikkei futures traded in Chicago 55 points below the last closing level in Osaka.

Australian stocks are also seen easing with share price index futures at a 49.5 point discount to the close of the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index. ' Reuters

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