Asia stocks fall on lethargic US, Europe jobs data

Asian stock markets fell Thursday after disappointing jobs figures from the U.S. and Europe dimmed confidence in an economic recovery.

Investor nerves was tested by a report that showed U.S. businesses adding far fewer jobs in April than they did in March. The private survey by payroll processor ADP said U.S. businesses added 119,000 jobs in April, down from 201,000 in March.

The government releases its monthly figures, which include the public sector, on Friday. The two reports can vary sharply.

Meanwhile, another jobs report from Europe underscored the gravity of the continuing debt crisis there. The 17 countries that use the euro reported that unemployment rose to 10.9 percent in March, the highest since the euro launched in 1999.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.3 percent to 21,240.92, a day after posting strong gains. The Shanghai Composite Index followed suit, slipping marginally to 2,43787 after racking up a big advance Wednesday.

South Korea's Kospi lost 0.3 percent to 1,993.80. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up marginally to 4,437.30, though many traders sat on the sidelines ahead of the release of the national budget next week.

Markets in Japan were closed for a public holiday.

U.S. stocks ended mixed Wednesday after the troubling jobs reports. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 0.1 percent to 13,268.57. The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.3 percent to 1,402.31. The Nasdaq composite index rose 0.3 percent to 3,059.85.

Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 8 cents to $105.14 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 94 cents Wednesday to finish at $105.22 per barrel on the Nymex.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3144 from $1.3165 late Wednesday in New York. The dollar was unchanged at 80.17 yen.