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Asia shares slip as focus turns to US jobs release

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Asian markets slipped Wednesday after 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 about Greece returned as creditors pushed its leaders to implement huge cuts agreed as part of a 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 2.48 percent, or 511.34 points, to 20,147.31 and Shanghai was off 0.61 percent, or 12.29 points, at 1,994.27. Chinese and Hong Kong investors have become more nervous about the mainland economy after more 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 programme have eased, while US and European data have pointed to gradual improvement.

However, traders remain edgy ahead of US non-farm jobs data due on Friday, which will give 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 reduce 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 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 that the Fed may reel in its stimulus programme.

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

Also, Portugal's foreign minister resigned Tuesday in a row over the country's bailout, plunging the recession-racked 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 100.10 yen, compared with 100.63 yen in New York, but it is still well up from 99.60 yen in Tokyo on Tuesday.

The euro bought $1.2937 and 129.39 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.

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

Gold fell to $1,244.23 per ounce at 0820 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.

-- Manila closed 0.50 percent higher, adding 31.94 points to 6,480.12.

SM Investments ended 1.64 percent up at 900 pesos and Philippine Long Distance Telephone rose 0.85 percent to 2,854 pesos.

dan/sm

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130703/asia-shares-slip-focus-turns-us-jobs-release-1