Asian markets mixed on China trade data

Asian markets mixed on China trade data, wait for key US jobs report

Associated Press

MUMBAI, India (AP) -- Asian stock markets were lackluster Friday after a slowdown in China's exports dimmed sentiment ahead of a key U.S. jobs report.

Japan's Nikkei, the regional heavyweight, edged down 0.1 percent to 15,863.86 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng rose by 0.3 percent to 22,859.37.

South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.6 percent to 1,933.90 and the Shanghai Composite Index shed 0.6 percent to 2,111.40. Taiwan's Taiex was up 0.2 percent to 8,530.03 and India's Sensex rose by 0.5 percent to 20,816.59.

The choppy trading followed China's release of trade data for December showing a deceleration in export growth, which suggests demand from Western nations remains tepid. That glum news was partially offset by an increase in import growth that pointed to some resilience in the world's No. 2 economy.

"Perhaps the fact that the numbers out of China aren't that bad suggests there is no need for officials to loosen policy, which is deemed a negative by some investors," said Stan Shamu, strategist at IG Markets in Melbourne, Australia.

The lackluster Asian trade followed a disappointing day on Wall Street, with the Dow Jones industrial average falling by 0.1 percent to close at 16,444.76 after reports of weak retail sales.

Markets will be closely watching the U.S. government jobs report for December due later Friday. Economists expect employers added 196,000 jobs last month and the unemployment rate remained at 7 percent.

European stocks also took a hit on Wednesday on the European Central Bank's decision to leave interest rates unchanged. Germany's DAX closed down 0.8 percent at 9,421.61 while the CAC-40 in France fell the same rate to 4,225.14. Britain's FTSE 100 ended 0.5 percent lower at 6,691.34 after the Bank of England also kept policy on hold.

Benchmark crude for February delivery was up 80 cents to $92.46 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 67 cents to $91.66 on Thursday.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 104.94 yen from 104.89 yen late Thursday. The euro rose to $1.3613 from $1.3606.

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