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Asian stocks mostly lower, Japan GDP eyed

The generally upbeat outlook provided support to the dollar, which hit fresh seven-year highs above 116 yen, while attention will turn to this weekend’s G20 summit and the release Monday of Japanese growth data.

Tokyo dipped 0.36 percent by the break, Hong Kong was flat, Shanghai shed 0.21 percent and Seoul was 0.77 percent lower, while Sydney edged up 0.20 percent.

After a turbulent October, global equities have enjoyed a strong run this month, largely helped by the Bank of Japan’s decision to ramp up its stimulus programme to kickstart an anaemic economy.

Friday’s losses came despite the positive lead from Wall Street, where the Dow added 0.23 percent to hit another all-time high, while the S&P 500 rose 0.05 percent but fell short of another record. The Nasdaq put on 0.11 percent.

US shares have notched up numerous records this year in response to a stream of figures showing the world’s biggest economy is well on track for recovery.

The strong US economy and the BoJ’s easing have also helped push the dollar higher and on Friday it hit 116.20 yen, its highest since late 2007, before retreating slightly.

In Tokyo morning trade Friday it was at 115.86 yen, compared with 115.75 yen in New York late Thursday.

The euro fetched $1.2466 and 144.37 yen compared with $1.2476 and 144.42 yen.

Japanese traders remain on alert following reports that the government is considering a delay to next year’s planned sales tax hike as well as a possible snap election next month.

“All eyes are on Monday’s third quarter gross domestic product data, which will be used to justify everything that’s being reported in the press — from the imminent dissolution of the lower house to the putting off of next year’s sales tax hike,” said Kazuyuki Terao, chief investment officer at Allianz Global Investors.

Also in focus will be this weekend’s Group of 20 summit in Brisbane, which will see the world’s most powerful leaders discuss problems facing the global economy, the Ebola crisis and defence issues.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December delivery rose 27 cents to $74.48 while Brent crude for January gained 61 cents to $78.10 in mid-morning trade.

WTI plunged Thursday to settle at its lowest close since September 2010, while Brent dived $2.46 on the last day of the December contract.

Gold was at $1,160.60 an ounce, compared with $1,158.06 late Thursday. -AFP



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