September 04, 2020 at 09:01AM

Asia’s stock markets had their worst session in two weeks on Friday following a tech-led plunge on Wall Street, though gains in safer assets like bonds and dollars were muted as investors awaited U.S. job data to see if it triggers a bigger selloff. MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan fell 1.5% and looked set to snap a six-week winning streak with a 2.3% weekly loss, its biggest since April.

The Nikkei declined 1%. Australia’s ASX 200 led losses with a 3% fall as global investors sold growth-exposed miners like BHP and traders trimmed positions ahead of the weekend in case Wall Street takes another dive. Elsewhere drops were a little lighter, with a 1.5% decline for the Hang Seng and a 1.3% fall in Korea – much less than the overnight 5% plunge in the tech-heavy Nasdaq. Futures were under pressure but backed off early lows. Nasdaq 100 futures were last down 1.1%, S&P 500 futures down 0.3% and those for the pan-Europe Euro STOXX 50 were up 0.3%. FTSE futures fell 0.5%. Focus is now on U.S. payrolls figures due at 1230 GMT, which could be a selling trigger if an expected slowdown in hiring is deeper than forecast.

The euro, which has fallen from a 28-month peak above $1.20 on talk that the European Central Bank is concerned about its strength, seems to have arrested its slide for now, and last sat at $1.1848. The yen was steady at 106.16 per dollar and bonds pared what was a pretty modest rise overnight, given the selloff in the equity market. Benchmark U.S. 10-year bond yields rose about 2 basis points on Friday, having fallen about 3 basis points overnight.

Apple fell 8%, Tesla 9% and Microsoft 6%. Still, the plunge only wound the Nasdaq back as far as where it sat last Tuesday. It is still up 28% for the year so far and 73% higher than its March trough. Brent crude futures fell 0.8% to $43.72 a barrel and U.S. crude fell 0.9% to $41.00 a barrel. Gold drifted lower as equities sold off overnight but was last up 0.3% for the day at $1,935 an ounce.

Asian stocks follow Wall Street lower, nervous wait for U.S. jobs data, Reuters, Sep 4

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