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Asian markets were mixed Monday on concerns over political uncertainty in Europe, where Greek politicians remain unable to form a government and Angela Merkel's party was beaten in a local German poll.
The euro also continued to face pressure ahead of last-minute talks in Athens aimed at putting together a coalition to avoid another national vote after pro-austerity parties were kicked out in the May 6 general election.
Tokyo was flat by the break while Sydney was also virtually unchanged and Seoul lost 0.60 percent.
Hong Kong added 0.10 percent and Shanghai lost 0.11 percent despite Beijing on Saturday saying it would cut the amount of cash banks must hold in reserve, as it looks to jumpstart the economy following another batch of poor data.
Trading remains uneasy as efforts to form a coalition failed for a fourth time at the weekend, leading Greek President Karolos Papoulias to call a final meeting for Monday.
If the crunch talks also end without a deal he will call fresh elections, which could lead to more gains for anti-austerity groups, which many fear could lead the country out of the eurozone.
Voters earlier this month punished ruling parties in a backlash against severe cuts to public services demanded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund in return for multi-billion-euro bail-out loans.
"The lack of transparency, particularly in Europe, with the possibility of Greek re-elections in mid-June, is a worry that looks to remain with us for the time being," said Monex market analyst Toshiyuki Kanayama.
"And that will keep the investor bias to the downside," he told Dow Jones Newswires.
In Germany the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel -- the main proponent of swingeing austerity measures to rebalance the region's economies -- suffered a severe defeat Sunday in a pivotal German state vote.
The poll in North Rhine-Westphalia, the country's most populous state and a guide to future German elections, handed her conservatives their heaviest loss ever, raising questions about her chances of re-election in 16 months.
It also comes days before she hosts French president-elect Francois Hollande who won on a platform of growth over cuts and a promise to renegotiate the eurozone's fiscal pact for tighter budgetary rigour.
In early trade the euro stood at $1.2885 and 103.10 yen in Tokyo, from $1.2921 and 103.31 yen in New York late Friday.
The dollar was at 80.01 yen, from 79.93 in New York.
The Australian dollar also slipped below parity with the greenback for the first time since December as traders moved out of riskier assets.
The Aussie dipped to 99.99 US cents at one point before edging back up to 101.08 cents in the afternoon.
The Chinese central bank on Saturday said it would cut its reserve requirement ratio by 50 basis points to boost liquidity in the world's number two economy after data last week pointed to a slowdown.
The move had been expected after figures Friday showed industrial production growth slumped to a three-year low in April, while on Wednesday the government said import growth was virtually stagnant and exports were also weak.
On oil markets New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate crude for delivery in June was down 84 cents to $95.29 per barrel while Brent North Sea crude for June shed 41 cents to $111.85 in morning trade.
Gold was at $1,582.10 an ounce at 0300 GMT, compared with $1,581.30 late Friday.
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