Asian shares slip

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The dollar edged up against the yen following a sell-off in New York.
HONG KONG, Jan 03, 2014 (AFP) – 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.

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

In afternoon trade Hong Kong tumbled 2.10 percent and Shanghai slipped 1.25 percent, with mainland investors growing concerned about a share glut after the end of a ban on initial public offerings.

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

And in India, Mumbai’s Sensex was 0.44 percent 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 in office.

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 percent, the S&P 500 declined 0.89 percent and the Nasdaq gave up 0.80 percent.

Shanghai and Hong Kong took a hit after official figures showed an index of China’s non-manufacturing sector — which includes among others retail, software and real-estate — saw growth slow in December.

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

On Thursday, HSBC confirmed that Chinese manufacturing grew at its slowest pace in three months in December. That 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 but remained robust.

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

In forex trade, the dollar bought 104.20 yen compared with 104.69 yen in New York on Thursday and well down from the 105.41 yen it touched earlier this week, which was its highest since October 2008.

The euro was at $1.3651 against $1.3665, while it also fetched 142.30 yen from 143.06 yen.

Thailand’s baht sat around a four-year low of 32.98 against the dollar as the country is wracked by a deepening political crisis

Anti-government protesters have vowed to “shut down” Bangkok on January 13 as part of efforts to oust Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and thwart elections scheduled for early February.

Oil prices were mixed. New York’s main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, eased five cents to $95.39 in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for February rose 19 cents to $107.97.

Gold fetched $1,234.97 at 0645 GMT compared with $1,220.70 late Thursday.

In other markets:

— Taipei lost 0.77 percent, or 66.00 points, to end at 8,546.54.

— Wellington closed up 0.68 percent, or 32.03 points, at 4,769.04.

Fletcher Building added 1.3 percent to NZ$8.62, while Telecom advanced 2.4 percent to NZ$2.36.

2014-01-03

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