* Asian equities sag early after weak China data released on
* Ukrainian uncertainty add to geopolitical concerns
* Dollar gives back some of its gains made after strong jobs
By Shinichi Saoshiro
TOKYO, March 10 Asian stocks slipped in early
trade on Monday and the dollar stepped back from its recent
highs as disappointing Chinese trade data and uncertainty over
the crisis in Ukraine kept risk appetite in check.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
lost 0.2 percent, and Australian shares
shed 0.5 percent.
U.S. stock futures fell 0.2 percent from their record
closing high on Friday.
The euro remained near recent highs, with bulls still
heartened by the European Central Bank's reluctance last week to
take further policy action.
Investors greeted the new week in Asia on a cautious note
after data released on Saturday showed China's exports
unexpectedly tumbled in February, swinging the trade balance
into deficit and adding to fears of a slowdown in the world's
The soft Chinese data put a damper on risk sentiment, which
had been temporarily boosted by stronger than expected U.S.
nonfarm payrolls released on Friday showing employers had added
175,000 jobs to their payrolls last month, up from 129,000 new
positions in January.
"While non-farm payrolls surprised significantly to the
upside on Friday, disappointing China data, escalating
Russia/Ukraine concerns and the missing Malaysian aircraft have
all contributed to a sombre mood," IG market strategist Stan
Shamu wrote in a note to clients.
Russian forces tightened their grip on Crimea by seizing
another border post and a military airfield, fanning tensions
ahead of a planned Moscow-backed referendum on Sunday on whether
the Black Sea peninsula should join Russia.
Diplomatic efforts to cool the crisis in Ukraine calmed
markets toward the end of last week, but rising tensions over
Russia's intervention in Crimea have kept investors on edge.
Meanwhile, a Malaysia Airlines flight with 239 people on
board vanished enroute to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur in the early
hours of Saturday.
The U.S. dollar index, a composite of six currency
pairs dipped 0.1 percent to 79.682 after touching a high of
79.847 on Friday after the U.S. jobs data.
Against the safe haven yen the dollar stood at 103.235,
pulling away from a six-week high of 103.77 hit on Friday.
The euro traded at $1.3880, within striking distance of a
2-1/2 year peak of $1.3915 reached on Friday.
The Australian dollar, usually used as a liquid proxy for
China plays, fell in the wake of the soft Chinese data. It
dropped to $0.9060 from $0.9065 late on Friday.