Most world markets have fallen in the wake of last week's disappointing US jobs data and weak economic conditions in Europe and Asia.

Major Asian stocks tumbled on Monday as investors shunned the stocks fearing that a global recession was possibly in the making.

Japan's Nikkei 224 index dropped 1.7 per cent to close at 8,295.63, erasing its gains of last year. The broader Topix index ended below the 700 mark for the first time since December 1983.

In China, Shanghai stock exchange lost 2.73 per cent, Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index fell 2.01 per cent, South Korea’s Kospi index shed 2.8 per cent, while Australia’s ASX 200 index slid 2.03 per cent.

Benchmarks in Taiwan and Indonesia fell 3 per cent and 4.3 per cent, respectively.

The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan plunged 2.2 per cent to its lowest since December.

Japanese electronics giant Sony was the stand-out loser as it fell below 1,000 yen for the first time since 1980. Sony, which has struggled to turn around its money-losing TV business, last month reported a record annual loss of 457 billion yen ($5.7bn) for its fourth straight year of red ink.

The Japanese currency, yen, was on a 3-1/2 month high at 78.18 yen against the US dollar, which is likely to hit its exports.

European stocks opened down on Monday, but Germany's DAX recovered a little, down 0.6 per cent in mid-session trading, while France's CAC moved into positive territory, up 0.6 per cent. The UK's benchmark FTSE was closed for a public holiday.

Wall Street appeared headed for a lower open, with Dow Jones industrial futures shedding 0.6 per cent to 12,032 while S&P 500 futures lost 0.5 per cent to 1,268.40.

Investors continued to head for the relative safety of bonds after weak US jobs data on Friday sparked a global move towards equities, hitting hard the euro and other currencies considered risky.

Data showed the economy added a meagre 69,000 jobs in May, the slowest rise for 12 months, while the unemployment rate rose for the first time in almost a year, to 8.2 per cent.

The weak US data followed poor Chinese manufacturing data and bleak European reports on factory activity.

China, which helped sustain the global economy through the 2008-2009 recession, is slowing significantly as manufacturing data released shows.

India, one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, saw its lowest growth figures in almost a decade, data showed last week.

The value of the Indian currency, rupee, has touched all time low against US dollar, making its imports of crude oil costlier further pushing inflationary northward.

The 17-member eurozone countries, which are in the throes of crippling debt crisis, have been staring at a record-high 11 per cent, according to data for April.

Source: Agencies