Asian stock indices fell sharply on Monday, as poor US jobs data stoked fresh worries about the state of the world's largest economy and outcome of European elections added to jitters about the fate of ongoing efforts to address the three-year-old debt crisis.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index sank 2.5% as of 3:01 p.m. in Tokyo.
Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average plunged 2.8%. Hong Kong’s Hang Sang Index fell 2.6%, while the Shanghai Composite Index lost ~0.2%. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 index dropped ~2.1%, while South Korea’s Kospi slid 1.6%.
Socialist François Hollande secured a narrow victory in the French presidential election on Sunday, as Nicolas Sarkozy became the latest victim of an anti-incumbency wave sweeping across the eurozone amid growing calls for an end to tough austerity measures.
Hollande, a 57-year old former socialist party leader, took just under 51% of the vote, according to official projections, a much closer margin than most polls had predicted in the past few days. Sarkozy, who belongs to the center-right Union for a Popular Movement, won about 49%.
Hollande will become the first Socialist to become president of France since François Mitterrand left office in 1995.
Hollande's victory over Nicolas Sarkozy will also be seen as a challenge to the German-dominated policy of economic austerity in the euro zone, which is suffering from recession and record unemployment.
The Greeks too are likely to have ousted the pro-bailout incumbent government. Exit polls published shortly after the polls closed in Greece’s general election indicate strong gains for Syriza, a radical leftwing party that rejects the country’s bailout programme but wants to stay in the euro club.
The polls showed a dramatic collapse in support for the two main parties in Greece, the centre-right New Democracy and Pasok, raising fears that they would not be able to form a viable coalition government.
The euro fell to a three-month low today after Socialist Francois Hollande was elected president of France and Greek voters looked set to overthrow anti-bailout parties, stoking concern about the region's efforts to quell the long-running credit crisis.
The 17-nation currency slid for a sixth day, its longest series of losses since September 2011, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party had its worst election result in more than half a century in the state of Schleswig-Holstein.
The yen and the dollar rose versus most of their major peers amid safe haven buying.
Oil fell to the lowest level in more than four months after weaker-than-expected jobs data underscored mounting concerns about the health of the US economy. Futures slumped as much as 3.2% to the lowest intraday price since December 20, extending a 4% drop on May 4.
US stock futures traded sharply lower in Asian trading. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures fell 139 points to 12,818, while Nasdaq 100 futures were down 30.50 points at 2,595.00 and S&P 500 futures lost 15.90 to 1,346.60.
European markets on Friday were hit by worries that outcome of weekend elections in France and Greece will put the EU fiscal compact in jeopardy.