Business

Japan stocks dip as unemployment rate rises

japan shoppers Image copyright Getty Images

Japan's Nikkei 225 closed down 0.2% at 17,103.53 following a raft of official data that dented investor sentiment.

Japan's jobless rate rose slightly to 3.3% in February, up from 3.2% in January, despite labour demand remaining at the highest level in two decades.

The unemployment rate had been expected to remain unchanged at 3.2%.

However, analysts said Japan could see a fall in the jobless rate in the coming months.

"[Japan's] job-to-applicant suggests that the unemployment rate could fall below 3% in coming months even though the ratio held steady at 1.28 last month," said economist Marcel Thieliant.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption On a monthly basis, official data showed Japan's retail sales falling 2.3% in February

Other official numbers released from Japan on Tuesday showed that household spending rose 1.2% in February compared with the same month last year, against expectations for a decline of 1.5%.

Retail sales rose 0.5% in February from a year earlier, lower than expectations for an increase of 1.7%.

Elsewhere, Hong Kong's Hang Seng index ended 0.1% higher at 20,366.30, while the Shanghai Composite fell 1.3% to end at 2,919.83.

South Korea's benchmark Kospi index was the one bright spot in the region, finishing the session up 0.6% at 1,994.91.

Australian banks

Image copyright Reuters

Stocks in Australia hit near one-month lows on Tuesday as banking shares fell on continued investor concern around bad debt.

After opening lower following an extended break over Easter, Sydney's S&P/ASX 200 closed down 1.6% to 5,004.5.

The country's biggest lenders dragged on the index, with ANZ losing 3.4% and Westpac closing 3% lower.

Commonwealth Bank and National Australia Bank also lost about 2.4%.

In the lead-up to the Easter break, ANZ said its exposure to mining-related firms suffering from lower commodity prices would likely lead to an increase in its bad debts.

The announcement was continuing to hurt investor sentiment this week, analysts said.

More on this story