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Asian shares slip, dollar pulls away from highs

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[September 22, 2014]  By Lisa Twaronite

TOKYO (Reuters) - Asian shares skidded on Monday as investors awaited data this week that could provide more evidence of a slowdown in China, while the dollar gave back a little of its recent gains.

The downbeat mood was expected to continue into European trading, with financial spreadbetters predicting Britain's FTSE 100 to open 24 to 25 points lower, or down as much as 0.4 percent; Germany's DAX to fall 50 to 51 points, or as much as 0.5 percent; and France's CAC 40 <.FCHI> to drop 20 to 22 points, or as much as 0.5 percent.

"The post-Scottish referendum rally is quickly fading throughout Europe this morning with major indices looking to open lower following a flat finish last week in the US and China fears giving Asian markets a poor start to the week," Jasper Lawler, market analyst at CMC Markets, said in a note to clients.

China's flash manufacturing PMI reading on Tuesday could come in below the 50 level, indicating that manufacturing activity is contracting.

"The psychological effect of a below-50 reading will be significant and consistent with the slew of softer Chinese data over recent weeks." Mitul Kotecha, head of FX strategy Asia-Pacific for Barclays in Singapore, said in a note to clients.

China will not dramatically alter its economic policy because of any one economic indicator, Finance Minister Lou Jiwei said on Sunday, in remarks at a meeting of finance ministers and central bank chiefs from the Group of 20 nations who met in the Australian city of Cairns. His remarks came days after many economists lowered growth forecasts having seen the latest set of weak data.

The G20 leaders said they were close to adding an extra $2 trillion to the global economy and creating millions of new jobs, but Europe's extended stagnation remained a major stumbling block.

MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan dropped about 1 percent. Japan's Nikkei stock average ended down 0.7 percent, after it marked its highest closing level since 2007 on Friday and gained 2.3 percent last week.

Investors booked gains in heavyweight Softbank <9984.T> after the listing of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd Softbank, which holds a 32 percent stake in Alibaba, had surged 30 percent over the past six weeks in anticipation of the Chinese e-commerce company's listing in the New York Stock Exchange.

Alibaba ended up 38 percent at $93.89 on massive volume on Friday. Because its stock is traded on the New York Stock Exchange and is not an S&P 500 component, its gains were not reflected in major indexes and it did little to help an otherwise lacklustre day on Wall Street.

The dollar gave up 0.2 percent against a basket of major currencies to 84.565, after the index posted its 10th consecutive week of gains on expectations that U.S. interest rates would rise more quickly than had been expected.

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The Federal Reserve should start raising U.S. interest rates in the spring, earlier than many investors currently expect, and should do so both slowly and gradually, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Richard Fisher said in an interview on Fox Business Network on Friday.

But the outlook for U.S. monetary policy remains murky. The Fed issued a policy statement at the close of last week's two-day meeting that suggested the first rate hike wasn't due until around the middle of next year.

The greenback eased about 0.2 percent against its Japanese counterpart to 108.87 yen, moving away from a six-year high of 109.46 yen scaled on Friday.

The euro rose 0.3 percent on the day to $1.2864, after drifting down to touch a fresh 14-month low against the dollar of $1.2826 early on Monday.

Sterling added about 0.4 percent to $1.6343 after it soared on Friday following Scotland's vote to reject independence.

Spot gold shed 0.3 percent to $1,212.40. Last week, gold posted a 1 percent drop for its third consecutive weekly fall.

Brent crude dropped 0.5 percent to $97.85 a barrel, while U.S. crude for October delivery, which expires later on Monday, fell about 0.5 percent to $91.88.

(Editing by Eric Meijer)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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