HONG KONG (APP/AFP) - Asian stock markets were unable to extend their new year rally on Wednesday as investors took a breather and cashed in recent gains, despite an upbeat assessment of the US economy. Tokyos Nikkei, which rose to a seven-and-a-half-month high Tuesday, slipped 0.39 percent in afternoon trade while Seoul fell 0.22 percent after posting a record close the previous day. Hong Kong fell 0.32 percent, Sydney dropped 0.62 percent and Shanghai gave up 0.28 percent. Singapore was 0.15 percent off. Shares slipped despite a gain on the Dow in New York, which rose 0.18 percent after minutes from the last Federal Reserve policy committee meeting pointed to a good year for the United States.Members noted a gradual pickup in growth with slow progress toward maximum employment, according to the minutes. The FOMC also revised upwards the growth forecasts for 2011. Although it also said the recovery remained subject to some downside risks, adding there was the possibility of a weakening in the housing market and a risk that Europes sovereign debt crisis could affect the United States. The FOMC also said current economic conditions did not warrant any changes to the Feds massive asset-purchasing programme to boost the economy. The Feds comments and data showing a rise in US factory orders gave support to the greenback, which rose to 82.11 yen in Asian trade, from 82.00 in New York late Tuesday while the euro fell to 1.3274 dollars from 1.3303 dollars.The single European currency sagged to 109.01 yen from 109.12 yen. Dealers said eyes would be on the release on Friday of key jobs figures in the United States for a better indication of the state of the worlds biggest economy.