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Japanese, Australian Stock Futures Fall on U.S. Jobs, Factories

Aug. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Japanese and Australian stock futures fell after U.S. jobless claims unexpectedly increased to the highest level since November and an index of manufacturing in the Philadelphia area fell.

American depositary receipts of Nissan Motor Co., a Japanese carmaker that counts North America as its biggest market, retreated 2.5 percent from the closing share price in Tokyo. Those of Sharp Corp. tumbled 3.3 percent after the Nikkei newspaper said Japan’s biggest maker of liquid-crystal displays will reduce panel production. ADRs of BHP Billiton Ltd., the world’s largest mining company, slumped 1.3 percent from the closing price in Sydney after oil and metal prices declined.

“The U.S. economic recovery is slowing,” said Kazuhiro Takahashi, a general manager at Tokyo-based Daiwa Securities Capital Markets Co. “The economy has come to a tipping point -- it will level off or decline.”

Futures on Japan’s Nikkei 225 Stock Average expiring in September closed at 9,215 in Chicago yesterday, compared with 9,375 in Singapore. They were bid in the pre-market at 9,220 in Osaka, Japan, at 8:05 a.m. local time today. Futures on Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 1.5 percent today. New Zealand’s NZX 50 Index lost 0.8 percent in Wellington.

Futures on the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index gained 0.1 percent today. The index slumped 1.7 percent yesterday in New York to the lowest since July 21.

U.S. Unemployment, Manufacturing

Labor Department figures showed claims for jobless benefits in the U.S. jumped by 12,000 to 500,000 in the week ended Aug. 14, the highest level since November and more than all 42 estimates by economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia’s factory index unexpectedly fell, signaling contraction, while economists surveyed expected a gain.

Crude oil futures dropped 1.3 percent to $74.43 a barrel in New York yesterday, the lowest settlement price since July 7, on concern a slowing economy will cut demand for energy. The London Metal Exchange Index of prices for six industrial metals including copper and aluminum lost 1.2 percent yesterday.

The MSCI Asia Pacific Index has declined 0.3 percent in 2010, compared with a drop of 3.5 percent by the S&P 500 and almost no change for the Stoxx Europe 600 Index. Stocks in the Asian benchmark are valued at 14 times estimated earnings, compared with 12.9 times for the S&P 500 and 11.4 times for the Stoxx 600.

The MSCI Asia Pacific is on course for an increase this week as company earnings and forecasts countered concern in the strength of a global economic recovery. The index dropped last week following five weekly gains.

Yen, Japanese Exporters

The yen strengthened to 85.24 against the dollar today in Tokyo from 85.75 at the close of stock trading yesterday. Against the euro, it strengthened to 109.26 from 109.87. A stronger yen reduces overseas income at Japanese companies when converted into their home currency.

The yen climbed to a 15-year high against the dollar this month and is on course for its strongest annual average level since currencies began trading freely in 1971, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and based on each day’s close.

The Bank of Japan is assessing the economic effect of the yen’s rise to a 15-year high, according to three people familiar with the matter, as speculation mounts that it will consider easing monetary policy.

“If some monetary easing measures are decided, that should support the market,” Daiwa’s Takahashi said.

To contact the reporters for this story: Akiko Ikeda in Tokyo at iakiko@bloomberg.net; Toshiro Hasegawa in Tokyo at thasegawa6@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Darren Boey at dboey@bloomberg.net.

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