Asia stocks decline after weak US jobs report

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    TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets fell Monday, dragged by global economic worries after an unexpectedly weak U.S. jobs report and surging inflation in China.

    Wall Street’s sharp drop before the weekend extended to Asia, where investors digested news that U.S. employers created the fewest number of jobs in nine months. The 18,000 net jobs in created in June were a fraction of what many economists expected and dampened hopes that the economy is improving.

    Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average lost 0.5 percent to 10,089.56, with a stronger yen adding more pressure to exporters.

    Hong Kong’s Hang Seng retreated 0.7 percent to 22,562.24, South Korea’s Kospi was down 0.8 percent at 2,162.48, and the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.1 percent to 2,796.05.

    Also dragging sentiment was data released Saturday showing China’s inflation accelerated to a three-year high in June even as the overheated economy began to cool.

    Consumer prices rose 6.4 percent over a year ago, a sharp jump from May’s 5.5 percent rate, China’s government said Saturday. Communist leaders declared taming prices their priority this year, but they have been frustrated amid inflation’s steady rise.

    In Australia, the government’s new carbon tax proposal battered stocks. The S&P/ASX 200 shed 1.3 percent to 4,594.60.

    Prime Minister Julia Gillard unveiled a plan Sunday to force the country’s 500 worst polluters to pay 23 Australian dollars ($25) for every ton of carbon dioxide they emit.

    Australia’s flagship carrier Qantas said Monday the tax will cost it 110 million to 115 million Australian dollars ($118 million to $123 million) for the 2013 financial year and lead to an increase in passenger fares.

    Qantas shares tumbled 2.8 percent.

    In New York Friday, the Dow Jones industrial average lost 62.29, or 0.5 percent, to 12,657.20.

    The Standard and Poor’s 500 index fell 9.42 points, or 0.7 percent, to 1,343.80. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite dropped 12.85, or 0.4 percent, to 2,859.81.

    Oil prices fell to below $96 a barrel Monday in Asia amid signs of a struggling U.S. economy.

    Benchmark oil for August delivery was down 33 cents to $95.87 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Crude gave up $2.47 to settle at $96.20 on Friday.

    In London, Brent crude was steady at $118.33 per barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.