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Asian markets mostly up, Tokyo hit by strong yen

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian shares mostly rose Friday following a sell-off in the previous session, but Tokyo was hit by a stronger yen and data showing Japan suffered its lowest current account surplus in nearly 30 years.

Dealers were also looking to the release of Chinese trade and inflation figures for a fresh outlook on the state of the world's number two economy.

Tokyo dived 1.55 percent while Hong Kong rose 0.18 percent, Sydney added 0.57 percent, Seoul was up 0.33 percent and Shanghai gained 0.47 percent.

Taipei was closed for a public holiday.

Japan's Nikkei suffered a sell-off for a second straight day on profit-taking -- after surging 3.77 percent to a four-and-half-year high on Wednesday -- and a stronger yen, which had fallen to multi-month lows.

"The market is due for another pullback as it remains overheated and ripe for profit-taking, especially with the holiday-extended three-day weekend coming up," said SMBC Nikko Securities general manager of equities Hiroichi Nishi.

"The 'energy' in the market remains very strong, however," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Data on Friday showed the surplus in Japan's current account, the broadest measure of Tokyo's dealings with the rest of the world, nearly halved to 4.7 trillion yen ($50 billion) in 2012, the smallest since 1985.

The figures showed exports to China and Europe slumped, with December seeing a monthly deficit of 264.1 billion yen, from a year-earlier surplus of 265.7 billion yen.

In early forex trade the dollar bought 93.57 yen, down from 93.61 yen in New York late Thursday, while the euro was at 125.29 yen, from 125.40 yen.

The Japanese unit had been as low as 94.06 and 127.71 earlier this week on a combination of expectations of further Bank of Japan monetary easing as well as rising confidence in the global outlook.

Europe's single currency also fell to $1.3385 from $1.3395, having touched $1.3711 last week.

Dealers moved to sell the euro after the European Central Bank held interest rates at record lows.

On Wall Street the Dow fell 0.30 percent, the S&P 500 lost 0.18 percent and the Nasdaq eased 0.11 percent.

Oil prices rose, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in March, increasing eight cents to $95.91 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for March delivery gaining 16 cents to $117.40.

Gold was at $1,671.20 at 0210 GMT compared with $1,676.08 late Thursday.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130207/asian-markets-mostly-tokyo-hit-strong-yen