* MSCI Asia ex-Japan down 0.3 pct, Nikkei falls on profit
* Dollar near four-year high vs yen, eyes 100 yen
* N.Korea threat weighs on markets
* European shares likely to fall
By Chikako Mogi
TOKYO, April 12 (Reuters) - Asian shares retreated on Friday
after recent gains, with investor confidence underpinned by Wall
Street's record-high close overnight, while the yen hovered near
four-year lows against the dollar.
European markets were likely to ease also, with financial
spreadbetters predicting London's FTSE 100, Paris's
CAC-40 and Frankfurt's DAX to open down as much
as 0.5 percent.
U.S. stock futures were also down 0.1 percent,
pointing to a weak Wall Street open after the Dow Jones
industrial average and the Standard & Poor's 500 Index
both set new closing records on Thursday.
"A little caution seems to have crept into sentiment
overnight as a few possible negative cues circle the markets,"
said Jonathan Sudaria, a dealer at Capital Spreads in London, in
a note to clients.
The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside
Japan fell 0.3 percent, led by a 1.1 percent
drop in South Korean shares and a 0.2 percent fall in
Other regional bourses were higher.
The pan-Asian index was set for a weekly gain of 1.9
percent, its biggest rise in three months, as the week began at
a four-month low after disappointing U.S. jobs data fuelled
concern about the American economy.
"Asian equities are overall becoming a bit top-heavy, with
lingering worries about tightening measures on property sectors
in China and their economic impact, as well as uncertainty over
the developments in North Korea," said Hirokazu Yuihama, a
senior strategist at Daiwa Securities in Tokyo.
A Pentagon spy agency concluded for the first time that
North Korea likely has the ability to launch nuclear-armed
missiles, illustrating the high stakes surrounding the
escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.
But the Pentagon said on Thursday it would be inaccurate to
suggest that North Korea has proven it has the ability to launch
a nuclear-armed missile.
Seoul shares, already battered by the tensions on the
peninsula, declined on expectations of weak earnings by South
Korean firms and the impact of a weaker yen on exporters.
"Overall, auto earnings are expected to miss forecasts for
the January to March period, because of the stronger South
Korean won. The yen's slide is also hurting sentiment," said Cho
Soo-hong, an analyst at Woori Investment & Securities.
Australian shares edged up 0.2 percent as a drop in
mining stocks offset strength among financials and defensive
Ric Spooner, market strategist at CMC Markets, noted the
Australian market had put in some weak performances despite a
strong lead on Wall Street recently.
"We had quite a strong run in our market, and our market is
probably more generously valued than the U.S. market," he said.
Risk sentiment remained intact overall, supported by the
Bank of Japan's aggressive stimulus campaign. The BOJ last week
pledged to inject about $1.4 trillion into the economy to end a
long phase of deflation and achieve its target of 2 percent
Having gained nearly 10 percent over the past week to reach
its highest level since July 2008 earlier this session, the
Nikkei stock average fell 0.8 percent as investors
"Unless there are strong catalysts to drive the market
higher such as the yen further weakening to 100 yen against the
dollar, profit-taking is natural given the steep rises," said
Yutaka Miura, a senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities.
The dollar has gained about 6 percent against the yen over
the past week, and on Thursday it hit a four-year high of 99.95
The euro climbed as far as 131.10 yen, its highest
since January 2010, and the Aussie dollar soared to 105.43 yen
, the highest since November 2007.
On Friday, the U.S. dollar was at 99.52 yen and the euro at
Spot gold was barely changed but was on track for a
third straight weekly drop as strong stock markets lured
investors seeking better returns while outflows from
exchange-traded funds reflected the precious metal's shaky
U.S. crude futures eased 0.3 percent to $93.20 a
barrel while Brent steadied around $104.20.