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Asian markets mostly down ahead of China data


Asian markets were mostly down on Thursday with traders booking profits after another strong rally in the previous session, while they are also awaiting the release of Chinese economic indicators.

Tokyo's Nikkei suffered a deep correction after storming almost four percent to its highest level since September 2008, while the yen reclaimed some of its losses in recent days.

Tokyo fell 0.93 percent, or 106.68 points, to 11,357.07 and Seoul slipped 0.23 percent, or 4.42 points, to 1,931.77.

Sydney rose 0.30 percent, or 14.7 points, to 4,935.7, Hong Kong fell 0.34 percent, or 79.93 points to 23,177.00, and Shanghai closed down 0.66 percent or 15.95 to 2,418.53.

Traders opted out of big risks ahead of the latest numbers from China due to be released on Friday before the country shuts up shop for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Beijing will unveil data on trade and inflation that will provide a clearer idea of the state of the world's number two economy after a string up upbeat figures indicated it has emerged from a severe slowdown.

"After gyrating quite aggressively over the past couple of weeks, markets are taking pause ahead of the Chinese (inflation) data," said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research at Perpetual Investments in Sydney.

"In essence, we are probably stuck in a bit of a trading zone after we had such a strong rally in January," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Eyes were also on a European Central Bank meeting later Thursday that is expected to keep monetary policy on hold.

Analysts said ECB board members would not undertake any more loosening despite worries about slow growth and the strengthening euro.

In foreign exchange markets the yen edged up following its recent sharp decline. The dollar fetched 93.43 yen in afternoon Asian trade, compared with 93.57 yen in US trade.

The euro slipped to 126.27 yen from 126.46 yen and to $1.3512 from $1.3519.

Regional markets were given a soft lead from Wall Street mixed trading day.

The Dow ended 0.05 percent higher, the S&P 500 climbed 0.05 percent and the Nasdaq rose 0.10 percent.

On oil markets New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March gained 16 cents to $96.78 a barrel in the afternoon and Brent North Sea crude for March delivery increased 12 cents to $116.85.

Gold was at $1,677.57 at 0830 GMT compared with $1,670.27 late Wednesday.

In other markets:

-- Manila closed 0.45 percent higher, or 28.64 points to 6,459.9.

Metropolitan Bank rose 0.09 percent to 110.50 pesos, and Manila Electric Co. rose 1.87 percent to 304.60 pesos.

-- Wellington fell 0.40 percent, or 16.71 points, to 4,195.24.

Telecom Corp lost 2.12 percent to NZ$2.31, Fletcher Building was off 0.78 percent at NZ$8.90 and New Zealand Oil and Gas added 0.53 percent to NZ$0.95.

-- Taipei was closed for a public holiday.