Asian markets mixed on recovery fears
Asian stock markets were mixed on Friday as a series of poor data out of Europe and the United States raised concerns over the global recovery.
The yen briefly slumped in Tokyo afternoon trade, prompting speculation that the government had stepped into the foreign exchange markets to sell the unit for a second time.
But the currency, which shed one yen against the dollar, soon clawed back most of its losses as the government's refusal to confirm its intervention led traders to suggest the big movements were caused by heavy selling by banks.
Tokyo's Nikkei stock index ended 0.99 percent, or 94.65 points, lower at 9,471.67. The bourse had gone into the break 1.25 percent lower but the yen's loss in the afternoon sent it soaring into the green before easing back again.
"The price action is very specific and strange" though no intervention has been seen directly, Minoru Shioiri, chief manager of FX trading at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities, said of Friday's yen movement.
Sydney shed 0.68 percent, or 31.7 points, to end at 4,601.9 but Hong Kong was up 0.33 percent, or 71.72 points, at 22,119.43 on bargain hunting.
Shanghai was closed for a public holiday.
Investors were given a weak lead from Wall Street where the Dow fell 0.72 percent following the release of data showing the US jobs market was still in a bad state.
The Labor Department said the number of Americans asking for unemployment benefits rose more than expected last week, ending a four-week decline.
Claims for the week to September 18 hit 465,000, worse than most forecasts of 450,000 new claims.
There was a little good news with US home sales rising 7.6 percent in September, but the level of activity still remained depressed compared to pre-recession levels.
Earlier a manufacturing survey in Europe came in under par.
September's eurozone purchasing managers' index, a survey of 4,500 euro-area companies compiled by research group Markit, crashed to 53.8 points from 56.2 in August.
Any score above 50 indicates growth and the index has been in positive territory for 14 months but the latest figures marked the fastest drop since November 2008.
European concerns were compounded by data out of Ireland that showed the economy unexpectedly shrank 1.2 percent in the second quarter compared to the previous three months, leading to concerns of another recession there.
And in debt-laden Portugal, the main opposition party warned it would not approve a budget for next year proposed by the minority government unless tax hikes were removed.
Adoption of the budget is crucial for the country's troubled economy, with Lisbon facing heavy pressure from the European Union and international investors to slash its swollen budget deficit.