“Geopolitical risks have been significantly magnified this week, triggering selloffs of South Korean assets as investors were unsure how the situation would develop under the new leader of the communist state,” said Han Sang Soo, a money manager in Seoul at Samsung Asset Management Co., which oversees $114 billion.
The Australian dollar fell versus the majority of its 16 most-traded peers as the U.S. payrolls data weighed on global risk appetite. The Aussie declined 0.5% to $1.0383.
The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid as much as 1.3%, its biggest intraday drop since Feb. 25. The S&P GSCI Index of raw materials fell 0.7%.
U.S. payrolls grew by 88,000 workers last month, the least in nine months, after a revised 268,000 gain in February that was higher than first estimated, Labor Department figures showed in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists was for a gain of 190,000.
The jobless rate fell to 7.6%, from 7.7%. The March figure, the lowest since December 2008, reflected a 496,000 decline in the size of the labor force.
“The payroll report was absolutely dreadful -- the fact that this is not just below expectations, but also below 100,000, is eyebrow-raising,” Ravi Bharadwaj, a senior market analyst in Washington at Western Union Business Solutions, a unit of Western Union Co., said in a telephone interview. “Weaker-than-expected reports that break the trend add to the likelihood of the Fed holding true to its easing promises.”
Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and his Federal Open Market Committee colleagues are deploying record stimulus through an open-ended expansion of the Fed balance sheet after determining that the benefits from stoking a flagging economy outweigh any risk of financial instability or higher inflation.