Japanese shares extended their run upwards thanks to the weaker yen, with attention turning to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as speculation swirls that he may put off a planned sales tax hike and call a snap general election.
Tokyo jumped percent 1.14 percent, or 195.74 points, to 17,392.79 and Hong Kong added 0.34 percent, or 81.76 points to 24,019.94.
But Sydney slipped 0.37 percent, or 20.35 points, to close at 5,442.7, while Seoul gave up 0.36 percent, or 7.24 points, to 1,960.30.
Shanghai fell 0.35 percent, or 8.87 points, to 2,485.61.
China’s National Bureau of Statistics said growth in industrial output slipped to 7.7 percent year-on-year in October, from 8.0 percent the previous month and below forecasts of 8.0 percent.
In the same month retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, increased a less-than-expected 11.5 percent. Fixed asset investment, a measure of government spending on infrastructure, expanded 15.9 percent in the first 10 months, below the 16.0 percent tipped.
The figures are the latest showing the world’s number two economy and key driver of global and regional growth is slowing despite easing measures from Beijing.
Nomura economists said the figures suggest “headwinds from the property market correction, severe overcapacity in many upstream industries and an overleveraged corporate sector are very strong”.
They added: “The efficacy of policy easing may have lessened.”
Wall Street’s Dow and S&P 500 dipped on profit-taking and after US, British and Swiss regulators levied more than $4.0 billion in fines on six of the world’s largest banks — including three US lenders — for manipulation of the foreign exchange market.
But analysts said the losses were not too bad, highlighting the general strength of confidence in US markets at the moment.
The Dow edged down 0.02 percent and the S&P 500 fell 0.07 percent. However, the Nasdaq added 0.31 percent to sit at highs not seen since March 2000.
The Nikkei continued a rally from the end of last month that has been fuelled by the Bank of Japan’s widened stimulus programme, which in effect prints money, sending the yen tumbling against the dollar.
On Thursday the greenback bought 115.62 yen, compared with 115.52 yen in New York. The US unit on Tuesday touched above 116 yen for the first time since 2007.
The euro bought $1.2463 and 144.12 yen against $1.2438 and 143.70 yen.
Traders are keeping tabs on any comments from Abe following reports that he is considering delaying next October’s sales tax hike after a similar increase in April put the brakes on a nascent economic recovery.
Major newspapers in Japan reported that he may also call a snap election next month if he decides to put off the second tax increase. His ruling coalition would likely win the poll, which would be greeted positively by the market and trigger fresh yen-selling, analysts said.
On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for December delivery fell 23 cents to $76.95 while Brent crude was down 52 cents at $79.86 in afternoon trade.
Gold was at $1,158.06 an ounce, compared with $1,163.87 late Wednesday.
IN OTHER MARKETS:
— Taipei rose 0.69 percent, or 61.72 points, to 8,980.67.
Hon Hai added 2.08 percent to Tw$98.0 while Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. was 1.52 percent higher at Tw$134.0.
— Wellington eased 0.46 percent, or 25.14 points, to 5,462.74.
Spark was down 1.54 percent at NZ$3.19 and Contact Energy slipped 1.41 percent to NZ$6.28.
— Manila was 0.47 percent lower, easing 34.24 points to 7,198.63.
Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. was unchanged at 2,996 pesos while Ayala Land fell 0.99 percent to 35 pesos.