Asian shares slip after Wall Street retreat

Asian shares slip after Wall Street retreat

HONG KONG - Asian markets slipped on Friday after Wall Street's three main indexes began the new year in the red as investors took profits following solid gains in 2013.

The dollar edged up against the yen following a sell-off in New York just days after hitting a five-year high.

Hong Kong tumbled 1.04 per cent, Sydney fell 0.51 per cent and Seoul was 0.69 per cent lower while Shanghai lost 0.37 per cent. Tokyo was closed for a public holiday.

With some investors in the region still away at the end of a holiday-shortened week and Tokyo still shut, trade remained quieter than usual going into 2014.

Wall Street provided a soft lead as dealers cashed in after the Dow and S&P 500 ended 2013 at record highs while the Nasdaq closed on Tuesday at its highest level for the year.

The Dow fell 0.82 per cent, the S&P 500 declined 0.89 per cent and the Nasdaq gave up 0.80 per cent.

The key catalyst was a weaker set of manufacturing figures from China and the United States.

On Thursday, HSBC confirmed that Chinese manufacturing grew at its slowest pace in three months in December. It came a day after Beijing said its purchasing managers' index (PMI) had shown a slowdown in the rate of growth for the first time since June.

Later in the day in the United States, the Institute for Supply Management said US manufacturing sector growth slowed slightly in December.

There was a slight uptick in the eurozone PMI, although that was offset by ongoing weakness in France.

In forex trade, the dollar bought 104.84 yen (S$1.267) compared with 104.69 yen in New York on Thursday although it is well down from the 105.41 yen it touched earlier this week, which was its highest since October 2008.

The euro was at US$1.3663 (S$1.266) against US$1.3665, while it also fetched 143.18 yen from 143.06 yen.

Oil prices rose. New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was up 11 cents at US$95.55 in early Asian trade while Brent North Sea crude for February rose 14 cents to US$107.92.

Gold fetched US$1,234.30 at 0100 GMT compared with US$1,220.70 late Thursday.

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