HONG KONG - Asian markets slipped on Monday after China said it expects its economic growth to slow further this year, while trade was cautious as investors awaited key data releases around the world this week.
Tokyo fell 0.80 per cent, or 78.44 points, to 9,698.59, Sydney shed 0.24 per cent, or 10.1 points, to 4,263.0 and Seoul slipped 0.91 per cent, or 18.57 points, to 2,016.06.
Hong Kong shed 1.38 per cent, or 296.95 points, to 21,265.31 and Shanghai slipped 0.64 per cent, or 15.69 points, to 2,445.00.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said on Monday that the country was targeting growth of 7.5 per cent in 2012, a third straight reduction as the world's number two economy is buffeted by the ongoing troubles in the West.
Wen's growth target, announced as he opened the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), follows expansion of 9.2 per cent last year and 10.4 per cent in 2010.
The "slightly lower" target was aimed at "accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development" as Beijing seeks to reduce its reliance on exports to drive growth with key US and European markets continuing to stumble.
Leaders also set an inflation target of 4.0 per cent for the year, unchanged from last year, after consumer prices rose 5.4 per cent in 2011.
"The cut has a definite impact on market performance as it let down investors that had hoped for a recovery in the domestic economy," Shen Jun, an analyst at BOC International, told AFP.
"The market will be subject to a bigger correction if China fails to fulfil market expectations of relaxing control over monetary policies and the domestic property sector (at the parliamentary session)," he added.
While dealers took in Wen's comments they were also eyeing a string of announcements this week, including a rate decision and jobs figures in Australia and a European Central Bank rate move.
However, the crucial day is Friday with the release of US non-farm payrolls, which will give an indication of the state of recovery in the world's number one economy following several months of steady growth.
Tim Waterer, senior FX dealer at CMC Markets, said in a note the slew of data due out this week "will set the table for risk appetite near-term".
He added: "If the market is to be given any new buying impetus to break through current levels, non-farm payrolls shapes as the most likely candidate."
In Europe the deadline for Greece's private creditors to write down their debt comes up on Thursday, with leaders hoping to cut 107 billion euros (S$176 billion) from the country's bill.
If the take-up appears on course, eurozone finance ministers will open the purse strings on an associated new financial lifeline for Athens worth 130 billion euros.
On forex markets the euro bought US$1.3185 and 107.05 yen in late Asian trade on Monday, compared with US$1.3196 and 107.93 yen in New York late Friday. The dollar edged down to 81.20 yen from 81.78 yen.
Oil prices edged down but remained high as the West's row with Iran over Tehran's nuclear programme continued to linger, stoking fears of a possible conflict.
New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in April, fell three cents to US$106.67 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for April settlement was down 28 cents at US$123.37.
Gold was at US$1,709.50 an ounce at 0800 GMT(4:00pm local time), compared with US$1,715.10 late Friday.