Asian markets mostly down ahead of US election

Asian markets were mostly down on Monday as better-than-expected US jobs figures were offset by caution ahead of this week's US presidential election and the start of China's leadership transition.

The dollar remained elevated against the yen and euro after Friday's employment numbers, but that was unable to support Japan's Nikkei, which also saw profit-taking after last week's healthy gains.

Tokyo fell 0.48 percent, or 43.78 points, to 9,007.44, Seoul closed 0.55 percent, or 10.5 points, lower at 1,908.22 but Sydney finished up 0.31 percent, or 14.0 points, at 4,474.1.

Hong Kong fell 0.47 percent, or 104.93 points, to 22,006.40 and Shanghai was ended 0.14 percent, or 3.02 points, lower at 2,114.03.

Traders were given a bright lead after the US Labor Department said on Friday that the economy created 171,000 jobs in October, far more than the expected 125,000.

And while the jobless rate rose to 7.9 percent from 7.8 percent, that was blamed on more people entering the market.

The encouraging report provided a final snapshot of a slowly improving economy as President Barack Obama battles for re-election Tuesday in a tight race against Republican challenger Mitt Romney, the Wall Street favourite.

US stocks jumped in early trade but ended in the red by the end of trade Friday. The Dow finished down 1.05 percent, the S&P 500 fell 0.94 percent and the Nasdaq lost 1.26 percent.

The jobs data also lifted the dollar, sending it to a six-month high of 80.68 yen in New York, before easing to end Friday at 80.47 yen.

In afternoon Asian trade the greenback bought 80.30 yen.

The euro bought $1.2790 and 102.70 yen, down from $1.2835 and 103.30 yen.

Eyes are on the world's two biggest economies this week, with the US presidential election too close to call, while Beijing is expected to anoint its successor to President Hu Jintao.

"The US data (released Friday) were generally positive, but markets are apprehensive ahead of the hotly contested US presidential vote" on Tuesday, said Hiroichi Nishi, general manager of equities at SMBC Nikko Securities.

Oil prices were higher. New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in December, gained one cent to $84.87 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for December delivery fell four cents to $105.64.

Gold was at $1,679.75 at 1050 GMT compared with $1,708.90 late Friday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 0.35 percent, or 25.11 points, to close at 7,185.36.

Leading smartphone maker HTC dropped 1.52 percent to Tw$194.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.44 percent higher at Tw$90.3.

-- Manila rose 0.61 percent, or 33.31 points, to 5,457.82.

Metropolitan Bank and Trust gained 3.16 percent to 98 pesos while Benguet Corp. rose 50 percent to 22.65 pesos.

-- Wellington lost 0.15 percent, or 5.81 points, to end at 3,908.27.

Telecom fell 1.0 percent to NZ$2.40, while Fletcher Building added 0.1 percent to NZ$7.00 and The Warehouse rose 0.6 percent to NZ$3.14.

-- Singapore was down 0.30 percent, or 9.06 points, to 3,031.69.

Keppel Corp added 1.89 percent to Sg$10.80 while Singapore Telecommunications fell 0.63 percent to Sg$3.18.

-- Jakarta fell 0.83 percent, or 35.95 points, to 4,302.94.

Cigarette maker Gudang Garam dropped 2.5 percent to 46,650 rupiah, car maker Astra slipped 1.9 percent to 7,750 rupiah and state-owned lender Bank Negara Indonesia was down 2.6 percent at 3,700 rupiah.

-- Kuala Lumpur closed 2.09 points lower, or 0.13 percent, at 1,654.04.

Public Bank lost 1.7 percent to 15.54 ringgit, Bumi Armada eased 1.3 percent to 3.85 and RHB Capital shed 0.8 percent to 7.50.

-- Bangkok edged up 0.01 percent or 0.10 points to 1,306.70.

Banpu lost 0.26 percent to 389.00 baht, but PTT Plc gained 0.94 percent to 322.00 baht.

-- Mumbai ended flat, closing up 0.04 percent, or 7.42 points, at 18,762.87.

Drug giant Dr.Reddy's Labs rose 1.36 percent to 1,794.7 rupees while Jet Airways rose 4.19 percent to 376.6 rupees

--

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