Asian markets lower as profit-taking offsets US data

Asian markets lower as profit-taking offsets US data

HONG KONG - Asian markets mostly fell on Monday as last week's gains prompted profit-taking, overshadowing Friday's Wall Street rally and upbeat US job creation figures.

The yen rose slightly against the dollar and euro, although it remains under pressure on expectations the Japanese central bank will further loosen monetary policy.

TOKYO - which on Friday hit its highest level since before the quake and tsunami of March 2011 - slipped 0.83 per cent, giving up 89.10 points to 10,599.01. Sydney shed 0.14 per cent, or 6.5 points to 4,717.3 and Seoul was flat, dipping 0.68 points to 2011.26.

Hong Kong finished flat, dipping 1.34 points to 23,329.75, but Shanghai closed up 0.37 per cent, or 8.37 points, at 2,285.36, with traders optimistic about upcoming data, including inflation and trade figures, due out of Beijing soon.

"With the major indexes having run up so far so fast, alarm bells have sounded about technical overheating," an equity trading director at a foreign brokerage told Dow Jones Newswires.

"Some players want to take some cash off the table... but demand remains strong overall, and this does not look like a tipping point in terms of a more profound sell-off."

Traders cashed in after shares jumped last week in the wake of the deal in Washington to avert the fiscal cliff of tax hikes and spending cuts that economists had warned would tip the United States into recession.

Providing some buying support was news out of Washington on Friday showing the world's biggest economy added 155,000 jobs in December. While the figure is not huge and was in line with expectations, it does show some confidence.

In addition the latest ISM index on the service sector showed unexpected growth in December, the fastest in 10 months, led by new orders and employment.

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