Asian shares slip after Wall Street retreat

Asian shares slip after Wall Street retreat

HONG KONG - Asian markets slipped Friday after Wall Street's three main indexes began the new year in the red on profit-taking following a solid 2013, while Hong Kong and Shanghai were hit by weak Chinese services sector data.

The dollar extended losses against the yen suffered in New York just days after hitting a five-year high.

Sydney eased 0.33 per cent, or 17.8 points, to 5,350.1 and Seoul fell 1.07 per cent, or 21.05 points, to close at 1,946.14.

Hong Kong tumbled 2.24 per cent, or 522.77 points, to 22,817.28, and Shanghai was off 1.24 per cent, or 26.25 points, at 2,083.14, after official figures showed an index of China's services saw growth slow in December.

Bangkok fell for a second day, shedding 0.55 per cent in the afternoon -- after diving more than five per cent on Thursday -- as anti-government protests grip the capital amid fears that elections due next month will not go ahead.

And in India, Mumbai's Sensex was 0.44 per cent lower after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said he would leave office after polls due this year even if his embattled Congress party wins a third term.

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.

Chinese investors, already worried about a share glut as initial public offerings begin after a year-long hiatus, were spooked Friday by figures showing growth in the mainland nonmanufacturing sector fell sharply in December from November.

The sector covers services including, among others, retail, aviation, software and real-estate.

The data came on the heels of news from around the world that the manufacturing sector had seen an easing of activity last month.

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