Asian shares slip as Wall Street's record streak ends

HONG KONG (AFP) - Markets sank in Asian trade Thursday as Wall Street's record-breaking streak came to an end, while Tokyo was hit by a stronger yen as investors look ahead to a Bank of Japan policy meeting.

Tokyo tumbled 1.07 per cent with exporters hurt by the pick-up in the yen. Hong Kong lost 0.65 per cent, Sydney slipped 0.50 per cent, Shanghai shed 0.20 per cent and Seoul was off 0.25 per cent.

Investors stepped back after global markets enjoyed a rally at the start of the week in response to upbeat data from the United States, China and Japan.

While there was a certain amount of profit-taking, analysts suggested some of the losses could be attributed to the World Bank's decision to trim its 2014 global growth forecast to 2.8 per cent from a January estimate of 3.2 per cent.

Regional dealers were given a negative lead from New York, where all three main indexes ended lower.

The Dow snapped a four-day streak of all-time highs, closing down 0.60 per cent to 16,843.88.

The S&P 500 fell 0.35 per cent, and the Nasdaq eased 0.14 percent.

Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at BMO Private Bank, said the World Bank report "sent a sorry signal to investors".

He also cited the surprise defeat of House Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor in a Virginia primary battle to a Tea Party-backed candidate. Cantor "was one of the biggest friends of Wall Street and the election of somebody openly antagonistic to Wall Street" sparked worries, Ablin said.

Japan's Nikkei led Thursday's retreat in Asia as the yen held on to its New York gains against the dollar.

SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi said the Nikkei "continues to look top-heavy at 15,000, and will consolidate, pushed down by the dollar's weakness".