GLOBAL MARKETS-Asian shares slip off 9-mth high on weak U.S. data

Masayuki Kitano
Reuters Middle East

* MSCI Asia ex-Japan inches away from 9-month high

* European shares indexes seen down 0.2-0.3 pct

* Euro dips but holds near 6-week high on Greece optimism

* Australian dollar rises after RBA rate cut

* "Fiscal cliff" uncertainty weighs on commodities

SINGAPORE, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Asian shares slipped on Tuesday

after a plunge in U.S. manufacturing activity hit Wall Street

stocks and the dollar, while the euro hovered near a six-week

high on optimism over Greece's plan to buy back debt.

Declines in Asian stock markets suggested caution setting in

after gains in recent weeks, with investors reluctant to chase

shares higher amid continued gridlock in the U.S. Congress over

proposals to avert the so-called fiscal cliff - $600 billion

worth of tax increases and spending cuts that will be

automatically triggered in early 2013.

European shares were expected to open lower, U.S. stock

index futures eased and riskier assets such as commodities were

also hit, with oil, copper and gold all losing ground.

"Oil markets are starting to come off on the

weaker-than-expected manufacturing data and the fact that the

U.S. economic outlook remains unclear," said Natalie Rampono,

commodity strategist at ANZ in Sydney.

"We are also seeing mixed headlines on the fiscal cliff

negotiations, so markets have already taken on a cautious

outlook on that account."

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan

fell 0.2 percent, backing away from a nine-month

high reached on Monday.

Australian shares eased 0.6 percent, while Japan's

benchmark Nikkei share average fell 0.3 percent.

Financial bookmakers called London's FTSE 100,

Frankfurt's DAX and Paris's CAC-40 to open down

0.2-0.3 percent, and S&P 500 futures slipped 0.2 percent.

Global share indexes had risen on Monday after manufacturing

surveys showed signs of a recovery, albeit an uneven one, in

China's economy and a slower contraction in Europe. But

sentiment toward equities soured after data revealed U.S.

manufacturing unexpectedly contracted in November to its lowest

level in more than three years.

The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) said on Monday

that its index of national factory activity fell to 49.5 in

November, the weakest since July 2009, as companies worried

about whether lawmakers in Washington could reach a budget deal

in time to avert a fiscal crisis that may lead to a recession.

Heading into next week, even a hint of progress in the

fiscal cliff negotiations could spawn a modest rally, said

Vishnu Varathan, regional economist in Singapore for Mizuho

Corporate Bank.

"Overall the euro zone noises are coming out positive and I

don't see any turning around there. The only real deal-breaker,

whatever will send the dollar spiking up and risk really off the

table, will be if there is a complete breakdown in the Congress

negotiations," he said.

"Right now there is some disappointment here and there, but

overall still the consensus is that negotiations will result in

some kind of acceptable compromise," Varathan said.


The Australian dollar recovered from initial

weakness on Tuesday after a widely expected interest rate cut by

the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA). The rate was trimmed by 25

basis points to 3.0 percent, matching the previous record low.

The RBA said the full impact of rate cuts in the past had

yet to be felt, and that recent data confirmed the peak in

resource investment was approaching.

The Aussie rose 0.2 percent on the day and last traded at

$1.0440, not far from a two-month peak of $1.0491 touched last


The euro was flat around $1.3060, hovering near the

previous day's high of $1.3076, the single currency's strongest

level in about six weeks.

The euro gained as Greek bonds rallied on Monday after

Athens announced better-than-expected terms for its planned debt

buy-back, boosting chances it will succeed and lead to the

release of fresh aid funds.

The U.S. fiscal cliff issue remained in the minds of many

investors, underpinning the Treasury market, where benchmark

10-year yields held steady in Asian trading around

1.628 percent.

Brent crude slipped 0.3 percent to around $110.60 a

barrel and gold fell nearly 1 percent towards $1,700 an

ounce. Copper fell from the first time in four sessions, coming

off a six-week high reached on Monday to drop below $8,000 a


The White House dismissed a proposal from congressional

Republicans on Monday that included tax reforms and spending

cuts, saying it did not meet President Barack Obama's pledge to

raise taxes on the wealthiest Americans.

The Republicans proposed overhauling the U.S. tax code to

raise $800 billion in new revenue over 10 years. Obama's opening

bid, outlined last Friday, seeks $1.6 trillion in new revenue by

allowing the expiry of tax cuts enacted under President George

W. Bush for the top two tax brackets.

"Now that the both sides have put out their plans on the

table, we can say at least the negotiation is starting. But the

way it looks, it will be difficult to get any deal by the second

week of December. Probably it's going to take until the third

week," said Tomoaki Shishido, fixed income analyst at Nomura


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