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Asia: Shares mostly lower on Wall St loss, Greek fears

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[HONG KONG] Most Asian markets retreated on Tuesday and the euro edged further down following losses on Wall Street as traders grow increasingly nervous about Greece's debt talks.

However, Shanghai added to the previous day's strong rally after China's weekend interest rate cut raised hopes for further measures to bolster the world's number two economy.

Tokyo slipped 0.51 per cent and Hong Kong lost 0.36 per cent while Seoul shed 0.12 per cent and Singapore dipped 0.23 per cent.

However, Shanghai added 0.48 per cent after running up more than three percent Monday, and Sydney gained 0.28 per cent US shares ticked down on Monday, ending a two-day advance, as nerves set in over Greece's bailout reform talks.

Athens has managed to garner enough money to repay the International Monetary Fund 750 million euros (S$1.12 billion) and avoid a default, keeping it from tumbling out of the eurozone for now.

However, the bloc's finance ministers, meeting in Brussels, said Greece could not hope for any of the final 7.2-billion-euro tranche of its 240-billion-euro EU-IMF bailout until it makes key reforms.

And with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis admitting the country faced an imminent crisis, investors fear for its future in the eurozone.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.47 per cent, the S&P 500 dropped 0.51 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 0.20 per cent.

The euro extended a recent fall, buying US$1.1139 and 133.91 yen in Tokyo Tuesday, compared with US$1.1154 and 133.97 yen in New York. It is also well off the US$1.1208 and 134.25 yen at the end of last week.

The dollar was at 120.17 yen against 120.11 yen in US trade.

In Shanghai, buying was supported by Sunday's 25 basis point rate cut, the third since November.

"It's pretty clear that the Chinese officials are still very much in easing mode and the rally for now is still well supported, more by liquidity than economic fundamentals," Ankur Patel, chief investment officer at R-Squared Macro Management LLC, told Bloomberg News. "We do expect more easing."

Shanghai and Hong Kong's stock markets have surged this year on expectations the government will unveil a slew of stimulus measures to kickstart growth in the Chinese economy, which expanded last year at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery fell five cents to US$59.20 while Brent crude for June eased 15 cents to US$64.76.

Gold fetched US$1,183.91 from US$1,185.20 late Monday.

AFP