The Australian and New Zealand sharemarkets are expected to open firmly in the red today after disappointing US jobs figures sent Wall St tumbling, fuelling expectations of further fiscal stimulus by the Obama administration.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 253 points, or 2.2 per cent, to 11,240.26 on Friday night, wiping out gains for the week.

The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped 30.45 points, or 2.5 per cent, to 1173.97 while the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite index sank 65.71 points, or 2.6 per cent, to 2480.33.

The US unemployment rate remained unchanged at 9.1 per cent, or 14 million people, in August compared with July. Expectations were for 68,000 jobs to be added. It was the 28th month the US jobless rate has been at 9 per cent or above.


CommSec chief equities economist Craig James said the futures market was pointing to a 1.5 per cent slump on the Australian exchange today but losses would likely be greater given European markets also backtracked on Friday, by 2.5 per cent.

"If we only fall by 1.5 per cent, at face value, that would be a reasonable performance but our market was sharply lower on Friday already, even ahead of the US jobs data," James said.

With Monday being the Labour Day holiday in the US, Australasian investors had perhaps closed out positions on Friday ahead of America's long weekend, he said.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama is likely to announce plans for a short-term fiscal stimulus focused on jobs and possibly the housing market.

Analysts predict the Fed's policy-makers will announce a fresh stimulus for the economy at a meeting on September 20-21.