* MSCI Asia ex-Japan inches down, Nikkei slides 1.5 pct
* Pause in yen declines hobbles Japanese stocks
* Gold firmer, platinum off 3-month highs
* Tokyo gold futures hit record highs for 3rd session
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, Jan 16 (Reuters) - Asian shares erased modest gains
to edge lower on Wednesday as cautious investors waited for more
clues about the global growth outlook, while a pause in the
yen's declines spurred profit taking in Japanese equities after
their recent rally.
The World Bank on Tuesday sharply cut its 2013 outlook for
the world economy to 2.4 percent from its last forecast in June
of 3.0 percent, blaming an unexpectedly sluggish recovery in
developed countries for holding back global growth.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan wiped out an earlier 0.2 percent rise to
fall 0.1 percent.
"There's no real momentum in the market before China's
fourth quarter GDP figures on Friday, so shares are likely to
coast, with individual stocks aligning with earnings
expectations," said Kim Sung-hwan, an analyst at Bookook
Securities in Seoul.
Bank stocks pulled Australian shares up 0.3 percent
and South Korean shares advanced 0.3 percent. Hong Kong
shares dropped 0.3 percent and Shanghai shares
eased 0.3 percent.
"We've just seen the banks do well a bit today, they're
getting demand for that yield play," said Stan Shamu, market
strategist at IG Markets in Sydney, pointing to the Australian
bank sector's strong dividends. "That generally happens when
there's no confidence in markets and no one is confident enough
to get more risk exposure."
Japan's benchmark Nikkei average shed 1.5 percent,
sharply reversing Tuesday's rally that lifted the index to a
32-month closing high, as the yen took a break from its recent
heavy selling. The weak yen has been a catalyst for the Nikkei's
24 percent gain over the past two months.
"It's a correction. Some exporters' gains are legitimate,
but others aren't, so I am selling exporters which have gained
while their fundamentals are still poor such as Panasonic," said
Makoto Kikuchi, Chief Executive of Myojo Asset Management in
The dollar and the euro extended losses against the yen,
after a Japanese official on Tuesday sparked selling by warning
of damage from excessive yen weakness through rising import
The yen had steadily fallen over the past two months on
expectations the new government will embark on aggressive fiscal
stimulus while pushing the Bank of Japan to take bold monetary
Data on Wednesday showed Japan's core machinery orders rose
3.9 percent in November from October, exceeding a forecast 0.3
percent rise, though uncertainty over the global economy may
continue to weigh on business investment.
The dollar fell 0.7 percent to 88.20 yen, after
scaling its peak since June 2010 of 89.67 on Monday.
The euro slumped 0.7 percent to 117.27 yen, after
surging to its highest since May 2011 of 120.13 yen on Monday.
The euro eased 0.1 percent against the dollar to $1.3293
, after reaching an 11-month high of $1.3404 on Monday.
The euro was pressured by a weak economic report from
Germany as well as comments from the chairman of the euro zone
finance ministers, Jean-Claude Juncker, who on Tuesday said the
euro was "dangerously high" without elaborating.
The single currency fell 0.3 percent against the Swiss franc
at 1.2365, having hit a 13-month high of 1.2413 francs
on Tuesday. The Swiss franc has been hit by receding safe-haven
bids as falling yields in deeply-indebted countries such as
Spain and Italy eased concerns about the euro zone's debt
Reversals in the strengthening trend for the Swiss franc and
the yen may suggest asset reallocations are taking place.
"Old regimes are dying and FX is the first sign of this
process. We are seeing this in JPY, are starting to see this in
CHF," Sebastien Galy, strategist at Societe Generale, said in a
note to clients.
Most U.S. stocks rebounded on Tuesday after data showed
retail sales in December increased 0.5 percent, beating
economists' expectations for a 0.2 percent gain, but concerns
about a U.S. fiscal problem weighed on sentiment.
The five-year cost to insure U.S. Treasuries on Tuesday rose
to 0.43 percentage point, the highest level since early October.
Spot gold rose 0.2 percent to $1,681.44 an ounce,
underpinned by wariness about U.S. default risks.
But platinum fell 0.8 percent to $1,665.25 an ounce
after hitting a three-month high of $1,699.50 on Tuesday on
supply fears. It traded at a premium to gold on Tuesday for the
first time since March 2012, having hovered at a historically
unusual discount to the yellow metal for much of last year.
The benchmark gold futures contract on the Tokyo Commodity
Exchange hit a record high for a third consecutive
session, rising to 4,828 yen a gram.
U.S. crude was up 0.1 percent to $93.39 a barrel
while Brent was up 0.2 percent to $110.52.