* MSCI Asia ex-Japan falls 0.3 pct, Nikkei at three-week low
* Euro, Aussie drop; risk aversion lifts dollar index
* China official Sept PMI ticks up to 49.8
* China, Hong Kong, Seoul markets closed for holiday
* European shares likely to ease
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, Oct 1 (Reuters) - The euro, commodities and Asian
shares fell on Monday, weighed down by uncertainty about Spain's
bailout and concerns over a slowdown in demand that was
underscored by sluggish business activity data in Japan and
Trade was subdued, with several Asian markets closed for
holidays, including China, Hong Kong and South Korea,
"Investors are focusing on demand indicators being weaker
than expected," said Natalie Rampono, a commodity strategist
with ANZ in Melbourne.
A 0.4 percent drop in U.S. stock futures hinted at a
weak start on Wall Street, while financial spreadbetters expect
London's FTSE 100, Paris's CAC-40 and
Frankfurt's DAX to open down as much as 0.3 percent.
The MSCI index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
fell 0.3 percent. The Australian market
was caught in choppy trade, rising as much as 0.6 percent before
ending flat. Taiwan stocks slid 0.6 percent after rising
5.7 percent in the third quarter.
Japan's Nikkei stock average fell 0.8 percent to a
three-week low as local profit warnings underlined growth fears.
China's official factory purchasing managers' index, which
tracks mainly big firms, inched up in September to 49.8 from
49.2 in August, reflecting the struggle by the world's
second-biggest economy to regain strength.
HSBC's China PMI earlier showed overall factory activity
shrank for an 11th consecutive month in September, suggesting
the economy has almost certainly suffered a seventh straight
quarter of slowing growth.
Beijing approved about $150 billion worth of infrastructure
projects last month and has kept money markets liquid, but has
refrained from cutting interest rates or the amount of reserves
banks must hold since July.
In Japan, sluggish economic growth and the euro-zone's debt
crisis hit sentiment among big manufacturers, which worsened in
the third quarter, Bank of Japan data showed. South Korean
exports to Europe fell 5.1 percent from a year earlier while
Indonesia, Southeast Asia's biggest economy, said exports in
August tumbled 24.3 percent from a year earlier.
The HSBC Taiwan PMI for September fell at its fastest rate
in 10 months as export orders slumped.
Euro zone and U.S. manufacturing surveys are due later on
Monday but the key statistic this week is Friday's U.S. nonfarm
payrolls, the first jobs data after the Fed's latest easing.
DOLLAR DRIVES COMMODITIES LOWER
U.S. crude fell 0.7 percent to $91.57 a barrel and
Brent fell 0.7 percent to $111.61.
The euro fell 0.4 percent to a three week low of $1.28035
while risk-sensitive currencies also fell, with the
Australian dollar slipping 0.3 percent to $1.0340.
The safe-haven dollar was bid, lifting the dollar index
, measured against a basket of key currencies, up 0.1
percent, weighing on spot gold which traded down 0.2
percent to $1,766.41 an ounce.
Gold is typically associated with safety but it is also
perceived as an alternative currency and comes under pressure
when the U.S. currency strengthens.
While copper and steel may bear the brunt of worries about
growth in China, the world's leading consumer of base metals,
oil and gold were likely to be underpinned over the long term by
the recent round of monetary stimulus packages launched by the
U.S. Federal Reserve, said Bob Takai, general manager of
Sumitomo Corp's energy division.
"U.S. oil prices are weighed by lacklustre U.S. economic
fundamentals and authorities probably don't want to see a spike
in oil which puts a drag on the economy. But oil is also
unlikely to slump thanks to ample liquidity provided by the
Fed's quantitative easing," he said.
London copper fell 0.3 percent to $8,184 a tonne.
EYES ON EUROPE
An independent audit on Friday showed Spanish banks will
need a total of 59.3 billion euros ($76.3 billion) in extra
capital to beef up their strength.
Credit rating agency Moody's said in a research note dated
Oct. 1 that the "recapitalization will materially enhance the
solvency of affected institutions and help restore market
confidence in Spain's banking system as a whole."
But uncertainty over when and whether Spain will seek
external aid has kept investors nervous.
Greece, another source of market jitters, resumes talks with
its international lenders this week for a bailout. Two German
magazines reported on Saturday Athens will receive the aid
despite budget shortfalls and slow progress on reforms because
the euro zone does not want the country to leave the euro.
"All of this suggests a range trading environment with a
mild positive bias," Sebastien Galy, currency strategist at
Societe Generale, said in a note.
A slew of central bank policy meetings this week will kick
off with the Reserve Bank of Australia on Tuesday, followed by
the ECB, the Bank of England and the BOJ, potentially deterring
investors from making big bets.