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Asia shares slip on profit-taking


[HONG KONG] Asian markets slipped on profit-taking on Thursday following the previous day's hefty gains but losses were limited after a closely watched indicator showed a slight pick-up in Chinese manufacturing activity.

The dollar edged up following a surprising rise in US inflation while the euro faced fresh selling pressure owing to speculation that the European Central Bank will widen its bond-buying programme to boost the eurozone economy.

Tokyo fell 0.39 per cent, Hong Kong slipped 0.29 per cent, Shanghai eased 0.24 per cent, Seoul shed 0.22 per cent and Sydney was flat.

Regional markets have enjoyed a mostly positive run since Monday as concerns eased over the global economy that fuelled a sell-off last week.

Shares opened in negative territory as traders cashed in recent gains. However, buying sentiment was lifted by a rise in HSBC's preliminary purchasing managers index of manufacturing activity.

The bank said its PMI hit 50.4 in October, up from 50.2 in September, indicating activity is picking up and soothing some concerns about the world's number two economy. Anything above 50 indicates growth and a figure below points to contraction.

The result comes days after Beijing released data showing the economy grew at its slowest pace since the start of 2009 - during the global financial crisis - although it was still at a quicker rate than expected.

US shares tacked lower on Wednesday after running up three days of big gains, helped by easing global fears as well as broadly positive corporate earnings.

The Dow sank 0.92 per cent, the S&P 500 fell 0.73 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 0.83 per cent But the dollar enjoyed a pick-up in New York after US consumer prices rose 0.1 per cent in September, beating expectations for a 0.2 per cent dip. The result eased worries about deflation and would tend to point to higher interest rates, which support the dollar.

The greenback rose in US trade to 107.14 yen from 106.90 yen earlier in the day in Asia. On Thursday in Tokyo it bought 107.25 yen.

Rumours that the European Central Bank could step up its monetary stimulus, including by buying corporate bonds, weighed on the euro. A member of the ECB's decision-making governing council, Belgium National Bank chief Luc Coene, said Wednesday that several colleagues had mentioned the idea of buying corporate bonds but that it had yet to be seriously discussed.

The euro fetched US$1.2637 and 135.48 yen in Asia Thursday compared with US$1.2643 and 135.46 yen. The single currency is well down from US$1.2820 and 136.54 yen seen earlier in the week.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December delivery fell 0.35 US cents to US$80.17 a barrel and Brent crude for December eased 32 US cents to US$84.39.

Gold was at US$1,241.67 an ounce against US$1,248.88 late Wednesday.