Stocks tumble over U.S. job fears

DollarsAsian stock markets have followed Wall Street into negative territory after the Federal Reserve voiced concern about US job growth but appeared to refrain from taking steps to prop up the economy.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 1.4% to 9,910.84 after briefly slipping to 9,886.34, its lowest level in a month.
South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.9% to 2,030.90 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.3% to 4,324.60.

Markets in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan were closed for public holidays.

On Tuesday, the US Federal Reserve released minutes of the March meeting of its Open Market Committee, which sets interest rates and monetary policy.

The Fed minutes showed that policymakers fear hiring could slow if economic growth does not improve. That caused Wall Street stocks to slump. The minutes also did not address the logistics of more bond-buying - troubling to traders who have been hoping for more action from the Fed.

The Fed has embarked on two previous rounds of bond-buying, most recently in August 2010, to drive down long-term interest rates. Low bond yields generally encourage profit-hungry investors to buy stocks.

The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 0.5% at 13,199.55. The Standard & Poor's 500 index finished down 0.4% at 1,413.38. The Nasdaq composite index lost 0.2% to 3,113.57.

Benchmark oil for May delivery was down 37 cents to 103.64 US dollars a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 1.22 US dollars to settle at 104.01 US dollars per barrel in New York on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro fell to 1.3199 US dollars from 1.3217 late on Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 82.63 yen from 82.86 yen.

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