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Asia stock markets mixed, Japan's Nikkei jumps

Pamela Sampson, AP Business Writer

Pedestrians look at an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo, Friday, Jan. 25, 2013. Japan’s benchmark stock index jumped about 2 percent Friday after the country’s currency continued to slide against the dollar. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)

BANGKOK (AP) -- Japan's benchmark stock index jumped Friday as the yen continued to retreat against the dollar and investors cheered the new government's plans to boost the economy. Other Asian stock markets were mixed.

Evan Lucas of IG Markets in Melbourne said he expect to see further surges in Japan's Nikkei 225 index after Yasutoshi Nishimura, a senior vice minister of the Japanese government's Cabinet Office, commented that the yen would fall further. The Nikkei rose 2.1 percent to 10,846.73.

A weaker yen helps Japanese exporters by making products sold abroad less expensive and also helps some of the country's trading partners by increasing demand for the raw materials they ship to Japan, Lucas said.

The recent decline in the yen's value against the dollar and drops against other major currencies have been driven by expectations that Japan's central bank will try to engineer inflation by increasing the amount of money in circulation.

The bank has been under pressure from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who took office a month ago, to do more to end Japan's prolonged spell of falling prices known as deflation. The ultimate aim is to create a recovery for Japan's moribund economy.

South Korea's Kospi fell amid fears that the country's exporters could be slammed by Japan's dropping yen, which makes Japanese products less expensive overseas. The benchmark fell 1.1 percent to 1,941.79.

Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.4 percent to 23,506.29. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.4 percent to 4,831.20.

Among individual stocks, Japan's Sony Corp. jumped 8.4 percent and Toshiba Corp. advanced 5.8 percent.

South Korea's Samsung Electronics, which said the strong won will hurt its earnings this year, fell 2.5 percent. South Korean carmaker Hyundai Motor Co. shed 3.9 percent.

On Wall Street, a sharp drop in Apple's stock pulled the Nasdaq down after the tech giant warned of weaker sales. Other stock market indexes posted slight gains.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.3 percent to close at 13,825.33. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose less than 0.1 percent to 1,494.82. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.7 percent to 3,130.38.

Benchmark oil for March delivery was down 18 cents to $95.77 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract gained 72 cents to finish at $95.95 a barrel on the Nymex on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3361 from $1.3371 late Thursday in New York. The dollar rose to 90.47 yen from 89.96 yen.


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