Asian shares slip after Wall St losses

HONG KONG - Asian markets suffered a sell-off on Tuesday after heavy losses on Wall Street fuelled by last week's worse-than-expected US jobs figures.

The yen eased back against the dollar and euro, although that was not enough to prevent a slide on Japan's Nikkei as it reopened after a long weekend.

Tokyo tumbled 2.05 per cent by the break, Hong Kong slipped 0.95 per cent, Sydney eased 0.90 per cent, Shanghai lost 0.28 per cent and Seoul fell 0.13 per cent.

Friday's report from the Labor Department showing the US economy added just 74,000 jobs in December - well below the 197,000 expected by analysts - fuelled concerns about growth going into the new year.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 1.09 per cent, the S&P 500 shed 1.26 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 1.47 per cent.

"The jobs data came in so far below expectations that a sharp knee-jerk market reaction is natural, especially considering how far the dollar has fallen," Monex market analyst Toshiyuki Kanayama told Dow Jones Newswires.

"The selling is unlikely to have a long-lasting effect on market sentiment, but could lead to a more thorough shakeout of what has been a very bullish two-month period."

The result fuelled speculation the Federal Reserve could hold off any further reductions to its stimulus programme at this month's policy meeting, which in turn has pressured the dollar.

In early trade the greenback bought 103.05 yen compared with 102.98 yen in New York Monday afternoon, but was steeply down from 104.93 yen in Tokyo on Friday. The euro was at 141.20 yen from 140.77 yen and also well off the mid-104 yen levels seen last week.

The single currency also fetched $1.3664 against $1.3670 in New York.

In Tokyo, drinks giant Suntory Beverage & Food rose 1.2 per cent after its parent Suntory Holdings agreed to buy Beam Inc, the second-largest maker of American whiskey, for $13.6 billion. If the deal is completed, it will create the world's fourth-largest liquor company.

On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was up two cents at $91.82 in early Asian trading while Brent North Sea crude for February eased eight cents at $106.67.

Gold fetched $1,250.40 at 0210 GMT compared with $1,246.29 late Monday.