Asia shares slip after Wall St losses, China reform plan

HONG KONG - Asian markets fell on Wednesday following losses in New York, while investors were also unimpressed with the lack of clarity in an economic reform plan from China's leadership.

The dollar edged lower after a recent pick-up following conflicting messages from the Federal Reserve over its plans for the stimulus programme.

Tokyo ended down 0.15 per cent, or 21.52 points, at 14,567.16 after running up healthy gains in the previous two sessions, while Sydney fell 1.37 per cent, or 73.9 points, to close at 5,319.2. Seoul dropped 1.60 per cent, or 31.92 points, to 1,963.56.

Shanghai gave up 1.83 per cent, or 38.83 points, to 2,087.94 and Hong Kong fell 1.91 per cent, or 437.58 points, to 22,463.83.

China's Communist Party wrapped up its closely watched Third Plenum on Tuesday, promising deeper economic reforms including giving the market a "decisive" role in allocating resources.

But the meeting, which traditionally sets the course for the next decade, was met with disappointment over its lack of detail.

"Retail investors had high expectations for the Third Plenum. But the communique failed to address how the government will proceed with a range of vexing issues, such as reforms in the state-run financial sector and household registration," said Amy Lin, an analyst at Capital Securities.

US stocks slipped on Tuesday as the Fed stimulus came back into view, with some analysts betting on a winding-down at next month's policy meeting. Expectations of an early end to the scheme were boosted by positive jobs figures on Friday.

Dallas Fed president Richard Fisher said the bank's easy money policy grew riskier by the day. While he is not a voting member of the bank's policy board this year, his views are important because he will have a vote next year, analysts said.

However, Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart said in an interview with Bloomberg Radio that when making its decision on tapering the bank should "focus mostly on employment and inflation, both of which are pretty far from the mandate-consistent levels we are seeking".

The Fed has said it will only begin reeling in its US$85 billion-a-month bond-buying programme when the economy is strong enough and unemployment has fallen below seven per cent.

The Dow eased 0.21 per cent from a record close on Monday, while the S&P 500 fell 0.24 per cent and the Nasdaq Composite was flat.

On currency markets, the dollar was quoted at 99.53 yen against 99.62 yen in New York Tuesday, while the euro bought $1.3437 and 133.79 yen compared with $1.3433 and 133.82 yen on Wall Street.

Oil prices rose, with New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for December delivery, up 28 cents at $93.32 a barrel. Brent North Sea crude for December gained 52 cents to $106.33.

Gold fetched $1,273.70 per ounce at 0810 GMT compared with $1,280.67 on Tuesday.

In other markets:

- Manila closed flat, edging down 3.21 points to 6,320.96.

The index has managed to hold up despite the devastating Super Typhoon Haiyan that destroyed parts of the country and left thousands of people dead.

- Taipei fell 1.11 per cent, or 91.0 points, to 8,104.26.

Smartphone maker HTC shed 0.65 per cent to Tw$154.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. fell 1.9 per cent to Tw$103.0.

- Wellington was flat, edging up 2.99 points to 4,918.66.

Fletcher Building rose 2.43 per cent to NZ$9.68 and Telecom slipped 0.43 per cent to NZ$2.33.