Asia stocks mostly higher after Japan data shows improvement
By KELVIN CHAN (AP)
HONG KONG (AP) — Asian stock markets were mostly higher Friday after economic data suggested Japan is pulling out of recession while Chinese shares fell ahead of a manufacturing report.
KEEPING SCORE: The benchmark Nikkei 225 in Tokyo added 0.6 percent to 17,717.32 and South Korea's Kospi was up 0.1 percent at 1,953.17. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 gained 0.8 percent to 5,613.60. Southeast Asia markets were also higher. But Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.1 percent to 24,570.01 and China's Shanghai Composite dropped 1 percent to 3,230.66.
JAPAN DATA: Japan's industrial output edged higher in December, suggesting the world's third-largest economy may be turning the corner on a recession brought on by a hefty sales tax hike. Manufacturing output increased 0.3 percent in December from a year earlier and by 1 percent from the month before. Japan's jobless rate dipped to 3.4 percent from 3.5 percent the month before. But stagnant wages meant household spending dropped 3.4 percent from a year earlier.
CHINA FACTORIES: Mainland Chinese investor sentiment weakened ahead of the release of monthly factory data. The country's official purchasing managers' index is due out Sunday, followed by a similar survey by HSBC on Monday but the figures are not expected to show any signs of a big rebound for the No. 2 economy, which is in the midst of a prolonged slowdown.
WALL STREET: U.S. stocks rebounded from a two day losing streak as better-than-expected quarterly earnings reports cheered investors. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 1.3 percent to close at 17,416.85. The S&P 500 index gained 1 percent to 2,021.25 and the Nasdaq composite added 1 percent to 4,683.41
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude rose edged up 1 cent to $44.54 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 8 cents to close at $44.53 on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for oil sold internationally, lost 12 cents to $49.01 in London.
CURRENCIES: The dollar edged lower to 118.00 yen from 118.20 the previous day. The euro slipped to $1.1323 from $1.1327.