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Asia shares ease back, Tokyo lifted by weaker yen

Asian markets mostly fell Tuesday, retreating from the previous day's gains, but Tokyo bucked the trend as the yen dipped against the dollar.

HONG KONG: Asian markets mostly fell Tuesday, retreating from the previous day's gains, but Tokyo bucked the trend as the yen dipped against the dollar.

The euro edged up after suffering losses in the previous session.

Tokyo rose 0.23 per cent or 34.00 points to finish at 14,636.52, the Nikkei's highest close in nearly two months, while Sydney was a tad lower, skidding 1.1 points to 5,511.7.

Seoul dropped 0.63 per cent or 12.72 points to 1,997.63 and Shanghai fell 0.34 per cent, or 6.91 points, to 2,034.57. Hong Kong ended almost flat, dipping 18.88 points to 22,944.30.

There were no cues from London and New York, where markets were closed for public holidays.

With few catalysts to fuel buying, dealers took their cash off the table. Attention is on the release this week of key US data, including revised economic growth for the first three months of the year.

Despite the regional sell-off Tokyo enjoyed a pick-up thanks to a weaker yen as a more bullish outlook saw investors move away from the safe-haven currency and into higher-risk assets.

"Technically, (Tuesday's Nikkei) move was significant, and could signal further bullishness ahead," Yoshihiro Okumura, general manager at Chibagin Asset Management told Dow Jones Newswires.

In the afternoon the dollar was changing hands at 101.88 yen, against 101.85 yen on Monday in Europe, while the euro rose to $1.3655 and 139.10 yen from $1.3652 and 139.05 yen.

The euro reversed losses seen in Asia on Monday caused by weak German business data that had boosted speculation of further monetary easing measures by the European Central Bank.

Oil prices edged down but were supported by concerns over a dramatic escalation in the Ukraine crisis that could potentially cause a disruption to supplies, analysts said.

A fierce battle erupted in the rebel-held eastern belt of Ukraine Monday, just hours after president-elect Petro Poroshenko vowed he would not let the country become another Somalia.

Ukrainian fighter jets and combat helicopters struck the terminal building at an airport in the eastern city of Donetsk to try to dislodge scores of separatist gunmen who seized the complex, triggering hours of heavy firefights.

US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in July, eased eight cents to $104.27 in afternoon trade while Brent North Sea crude for July delivery was down two cents at $110.30 per barrel.

Gold fetched $1,283.60 an ounce at 0800 GMT compared with $1,293.04 late Monday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei added 0.21 per cent, or 19.17 points, to 9,055.29.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 0.41 per cent higher at Tw$123.5, while leading chip design house MediaTek added 2.93 per cent to Tw$509.0.

-- Wellington fell 0.15 per cent, or 7.83 points, to 5,145.85.

Air New Zealand lost 1.82 per cent to end at NZ$2.16 and Chorus dipped 0.59 per cent to NZ$1.69.

-- Manila closed 0.15 per cent lower, dipping 10.16 points to 6,780.26.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. fell 0.21 per cent to 2,894 pesos but Megaworld rose 0.66 per cent to 4.60 pesos.

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