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*Euro STOXX 600 down 0.2%*China 2022 growth one of worst in almost 50 years*Asia shares slip 0.4%*Yen close to 7-month highsBy Tom WilsonLONDON, Jan 17 (Reuters) -Shares slipped on Tuesday after China’s growth in 2022 slumped, halting their new year rally and keeping investors on edge over the risk of a global recession, while the Japanese yen hung near a seven-month high ahead of a key central bank decision.The Euro STOXX 600 lost 0.2%, slipping from its nine-month high hit on Monday. Global equities had advanced so far in 2022, spurred by hopes of a rebound in China’s economy and an easing of prices pressures in the United States and Europe.But the Chinese data showed that the world’s second-biggest economy grew 2.9% in the fourth quarter of last year, beating expectations but underscoring the toll exacted by Beijing’s stringent “zero-COVID” policy.China’s growth for 2022 of 3% was far below the official target of about 5.5%. Excluding a 2.2% expansion after COVID-19 first hit in 2020, it was the worst showing in nearly half a century.Rate-sensitive tech stocks declined 0.8%, weighing on the STOXX 600 overall. Wall Street, meanwhile, was set to open slightly lower after a public holiday on Monday, with E-mini futures for the S&P 500 down 0.3%.Market players said investors were taking stock of how economies would expand as inflation peaks and central bank tightening of monetary policy slows, with the China data underscoring doubts over whether it could act as a spur.”What will be the thing that reinvigorates growth?” said Gaël Combes, head of fundamental research at Unigestion. “China is probably unlikely to provide the lift it has provided in the past, like during the global financial crisis.”Earlier, Asia Pacific shares outside Japan widened losses in response to the Chinese data, closing down 0.4%. Shares in Hong Kong’s dropped 0.8% and China’s benchmark CSI300 Index clawed back losses to close flat.Story continuesBOJ UNDER PRESSUREAcross the world, the R-word continues to loom large.Two-thirds of private and public sector chief economists surveyed by the World Economic Forum in Davos expected a global recession this year, with some 18% considering it “extremely likely” – more than twice as many as in the previous survey conducted in September 2022.Currency traders remained focused on central banks.The Japanese yen stayed close to seven-month highs as investors held their breath for a potential policy shift at the Bank of Japan (BOJ).The yen steadied around 128.78 after hitting a top of 127.22 per dollar on Monday, with traders braced for sharp moves when the BOJ concludes a two-day meeting on Wednesday.The BOJ is under pressure to change its interest rate policy as soon as Wednesday, after its attempt to buy itself breathing room backfired, emboldening bond investors to test its resolve.The dollar index bounced from a seven-month low of 101.77 made a day ago, holding at 102.27, while sterling edged higher after the pace of pay growth in Britain, closely watched by the Bank of England as it gauges how much higher to raise interest rates, accelerated again.The pound rose 0.5% to $1.2254 after wage growth picked up more pace in the three months to November, while employment rose faster than expected.Government bond markets were relatively quiet, with euro zone bond yields inching up from month lows hit late last week, but trading in bonds globally was cautious ahead of the result of the BOJ meeting.As equities rallied this year, other riskier assets have also gained.The No.1 cryptocurrency bitcoin has clocked a gain of about a quarter in January, leaping over 20% in the past week alone, putting in on course for its best month since October 2021. It was last trading flat at $21,208.(Reporting by Tom Wilson in London and Kane Wu in Hong Kong; Editing by Gerry Doyle, Neil Fullick, Alex Richardson and Chizu Nomiyama)

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