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Asia shares slip as focus turns to US jobs release

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Asian markets slipped Wednesday, taking a lead from Wall Street, with few catalysts driving action ahead of US jobs data, while the dollar eased after breaking 100 yen in New York.

Concerns over Greece returned as the country's creditors pushed its leaders to implement huge cuts agreed as part of its bailout, fuelling fears Athens could be denied much-needed cash.

Tokyo fell 0.31 percent, or 43.18 points, to 14,055.56 with buying on the back of the weakening yen offset by profit-taking after the index posted gains of more than nine percent over the past four sessions.

Hong Kong tumbled 1.64 percent in the afternoon and Shanghai was off 0.79 percent, with investors growing more nervous about the mainland economy after another batch of weak manufacturing data showed it was slowing down. Seoul was 1.64 percent, or 30.36 points, lower at 1,824.66.

Sydney closed down 1.86 percent, or 89.9 points, at 4,744.1 after surging 2.6 percent on Tuesday.

Global markets have enjoyed a broad uptick in the past few sessions as concerns over the US Federal Reserve's stimulus have eased, while US and European data have pointed to gradual improvement.

However, traders remain edgy ahead of US non-farm jobs data due out on Friday, which will provide a better idea of the state of the world's biggest economy.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.28 percent while the S&P 500 and Nasdaq edged down marginally as Greece came under renewed pressure from EU-IMF creditors.

The so-called troika representing the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank, has called on Greece to make thousands of state layoffs and cut back a burgeoning health budget deficit, in line with past pledges.

A Eurogroup meeting on July 8 will determine whether the country can withdraw the next $8.2 billion tranche of its bailout, while the IMF will decide by the end of the month whether to disburse its own scheduled contribution.

"It seems the troubles in Greece are raising their ugly head again," Nader Naeimi, who heads up AMP Capital's Dynamic Asset Allocation funds in Sydney, told Dow Jones Newswires.

He added that dealers were already on edge over China's weakness and worries about the Fed reeling in its stimulus programme.

"Suddenly you get this bad news out of Europe and it's triggering all sorts of bad memories," he said.

In Portugal, the foreign minister resigned Tuesday in a row over the country's bailout, plunging the recession-wracked country into a political crisis a day after the finance minister quit.

On currency markets, the dollar dipped slightly against the yen after breaking the 100-yen barrier for the first time in almost a month in New York.

Afternoon Asian trade Wednesday saw it buying 100.75 yen, compared with 100.63 yen in New York, but it is well up from 99.60 yen in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The euro bought $1.2973 and 130.62 yen, against $1.2978 and 130.60 yen in New York.

In Tokyo, shares in the food-and-beverage unit of Suntory rose more than two percent after the biggest initial public offering in Japan this year. Suntory Beverage and Food stocks jumped 1.5 percent.

Oil prices rose, fuelled by growing concerns that the political crisis in Egypt could disrupt supplies from the Middle East, analysts said.

New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) light sweet crude for delivery in August, was up $2.25 at $101.85 a barrel in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for August gained $1.13 to $105.13.

WTI had jumped $1.61 to close at $99.60 in New York, while Brent spiked $1.00 to $104.00.

Gold fell to $1,247.17 per ounce at 0650 GMT, compared with $1,260.17 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei fell 1.30 percent, or 104.44 points, to 7,911.42.

Smartphone maker HTC tumbled 5.03 percent to Tw$207.5 while Hon Hai was 0.14 percent lower at Tw$73.2.

-- Wellington shed 0.17 percent, or 7.50 points, to close at 4,450.76.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130703/asia-shares-slip-focus-turns-us-jobs-release-0