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Asia: Stocks retreat as US jobs data fuel rate hike talk


[HONG KONG] Asian markets mostly fell on Monday, with a better-than-forecast US jobs report fuelling talk of an early interest rate hike, while the dollar sat around 13-year highs.

The likelihood that US borrowing costs will go up before the end of the year saw most Wall Street indexes close lower, and also overshadowed an upward revision of Japanese economic growth.

Tokyo slipped 0.44 per cent, Hong Kong lost 0.10 per cent and Seoul shed 0.20 per cent.

However Shanghai added 1.02 per cent on hopes for fresh monetary easing by China's leaders after data showed exports and imports sank in May.

Sydney was closed for a public holiday.

The US Labor Department on Friday said the world's biggest economy and key driver of global growth created 280,000 jobs in May.

The figure was far better than forecast and follows a slow start to the year that saw a first quarter economic contraction partly because of severe winter weather. The report also showed better wage growth, in an indication of tightening in the jobs market.

However, while the news suggests the recovery is back on track, it also gives the Fed more ammunition to start raising rates again, weighing on US equities.

The Dow shed 0.31 per cent and the S&P 500 dropped 0.14 per cent while the Nasdaq added 0.18 per cent.

The dollar also surged, hitting 125.86 yen at one point, its highest level since June 2002, before easing slightly.

In Tokyo on Monday the greenback was at 125.58 yen.

"Investors have to be prepared for a US rate hike this year given that the US economy has been doing pretty well," Khiem Do, head of multi-asset strategy at Baring Asset Management Ltd, told Bloomberg News.

"There are a number of uncertainties out there, especially since equities have performed very well this year." The euro slipped to US$1.1100 and 139.39 yen on Monday from US$1.1115 and 139.56 yen in US trade on concerns about Greece's debt reform talks as Athens and its creditors bicker over the latest demands from Brussels.

European Commission President Juncker, at a Group of Seven summit in Germany, accused Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras of failing to respect "minimal rules" in their negotiations and of failing to deliver a promised list of alternative reforms.

Greece has until the end of the month to agree a deal that will unlock billions of euros in bailout cash it badly needs to repay its debts, and there are fears that a default could see the country tumble out of the eurozone.

Oil prices were lower. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for July delivery fell 46 cents to US$58.67 while Brent crude for July eased 43 cents to US$62.88.

Gold fetched US$1,176.64 compared with US$1,174.44 late Friday.