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Updated: Wed, 04 Jun 2014 23:40:34 GMT | By Joe McDonald, The Associated Press, thecanadianpress.com

Asian stocks sink on signs US hiring slowed

BEIJING, China - Asian stocks fell Thursday after a payroll processor said U.S. employers slowed hiring last month and as investors looked ahead to a European Central Bank meeting.


BEIJING, China - Asian stocks fell Thursday after a payroll processor said U.S. employers slowed hiring last month and as investors looked ahead to a European Central Bank meeting.

Oil declined but stayed above $102 per barrel after government data showed a fall in stockpiles of crude and rising supplies of refined fuels.

China's benchmark Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.3 per cent to 3,018.19 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng dropped 0.1 per cent to 23,134.54. Seoul's Kospi fell 0.6 per cent to 1,996.55.

Investors were dismayed after payroll processor ADP said U.S. businesses added just 179,000 workers to their payrolls. It was the weakest hiring in four months and comes ahead of the U.S. government's employment report for May due Friday.

"The ADP employment report was a big disappointment," said DBS Group in a report. It said the "odds of an upside surprise" in the official U.S. employment data "look pretty slim."

Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 declined 0.2 per cent to 5,433.90. Singapore, Malaysia and Manila also fell.

Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was little changed at 15,071.52.

Investors were looking ahead to Thursday's monthly meeting of the ECB following suggestions by bank president Mario Draghi of possible additional stimulus. That could include a rate cut or other measures.

"It's time for the ECB to deliver," said Credit Agricole CIB in a report.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 15.19 points, or 0.1 per cent, to 16,737.53 on Wednesday. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.64 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 1,927.88. The Nasdaq composite index rose 17.56 points, or 0.4 per cent, to 4,251.64.

In energy markets, U.S. crude for July delivery was down 33 cents to $102.31 after U.S. supplies fell by an unexpectedly large margin of 3.4 million barrels last week. The contract shed 2 cents Wednesday to close at $102.64.

The euro was little changed at $1.3598 from $1.3601 late Wednesday. The dollar fell to 102.57 yen from 102.69 yen.

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