SINGAPORE: Asian shares fell for a second successive day on Friday as another batch of lackluster U.S. data stoked concerns that the recovery in the world's biggest economy is faltering.
The euro was steady after a bumpy session on Thursday, when European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi gave a more upbeat assessment of the region's battered economy, reducing hopes of further monetary stimulus measures in the pipeline.
"Investors were hoping to see stronger hints of further easing from the (European Central Bank) to offset the weak data, but came out empty-handed," said Kwak Jung-bo, an analyst at Samsung Securities in Seoul.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia Pacific shares outside Japan <.MIAPJ0000PUS> fell 0.4 percent, with Australian shares <.AXJO> down 0.6 percent. <.AX> Tokyo markets were closed for a holiday.
Growth sensitive sectors such as energy <.MIAPJCS00PUS> and tech <.MIAPJIT00PUS> were the biggest losers in the MSCI index, while the defensive sectors of consumer staples <.MIAPJIT00PUS> and utilities <.MIAPJUT00PUS> were the only components in positive territory.
"Stock rotation seems to be going on in earnest now," said Simon Twiss, a dealer at Arnhem Investment Management in Sydney.
TEPID U.S. SERVICES GROWTH
Wall Street stocks had fallen on Thursday after a survey showed tepid growth in the U.S. services sector. <.N>
That survey, combined with data from the previous day showing a slowdown in private sector hiring, raised concerns that the recovery which drove equity markets higher in early 2012 is stalling. This is throwing more attention on the April non-farm payrolls labor market report due later on Friday.
Market expectations for the non-farm payrolls, due at 1230 GMT, have fallen this week. Traders now suspect the economy added 125,000 to 150,000 jobs in April, below a Reuters consensus forecast of 170,000.
A disappointing result is seen likely to put the dollar under pressure.
"We've gone back to that situation where when the weaker data comes out, we start to price in more chance of QE3 and therefore the dollar goes weaker," said Rob Ryan, FX strategist at BNP Paribas in Singapore, referring to the possibility of the Federal Reserve launching another bond-buying program.
The dollar held steady versus the yen at 80.15 yen, while the euro traded little changed around $1.3155.
In commodity markets, gold held steady around $1,636 an ounce, while copper rebounded 0.3 percent to around $8,250 a metric tonne (1.1 ton), but remained on course for its first weekly loss in three.
Oil was steady after tumbling in the previous session on the shaky data and a build-up in U.S. inventories. Brent crude rose 17 cents to $116.25 a barrel, while U.S. crude gained 11 cents to $102.65.