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Asian markets mixed, China data offsets US jobs news

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian markets were mixed Monday after another record-breaking performance on Wall Street while Shanghai dipped as disappointing economic data fuelled concerns about China's economy.

The dollar got a boost from better-than-forecast US jobs figures, hitting multi-year highs against the yen.

Tokyo rose 0.85 percent, Sydney added 0.12 percent, Seoul eased 0.85 percent, Hong Kong was up 0.58 percent and Shanghai was off 0.17 percent.

In Washington the Labor Department reported that the United States generated a net 236,000 new jobs in February, far more than expected, pulling the unemployment rate down to a four-year low of 7.7 percent from 7.9 percent.

The report reinforced views that the economy is solidifying its recovery, while analysts said underlying figures and upcoming spending cuts meant the Federal Reserve was unlikely to take its foot off its monetary easing soon.

On Wall Street the Dow broke the 14,400 line for the first time, before finishing at 14,397.07, up 0.47 percent and a new record for a fourth straight session.

The S&P 500 also rose 0.45 percent to 1,551.18, approaching its own record high, while the Nasdaq added 0.38 percent.

And on forex markets the greenback rallied in New York more than a yen Friday to end at 95.97 yen.

In early Tokyo trade Monday the dollar bought 96.20 yen, while the euro stood at $1.2992 and 124.98 yen, from $1.3004 and 124.83 yen in New York on Friday.

The strong performance in the United States was slightly overshadowed by results from Beijing Saturday that showed inflation at a 10-month high of 3.2 percent in February while growth in industrial output and retail sales slowed.

Inflation is a key issue for the ruling Communist Party as it raises the chances of popular discontent over climbing prices and the threat of social unrest.

The figures raise concerns that the pick-up in the economy may be slowing while dealers are also worried the government will unveil tightening measures to temper prices.

Oil prices eased, with New York's main contract, light sweet crude for delivery in April, falling 22 cents to $91.73 a barrel and Brent North Sea crude for April delivery dipping 38 cents to $110.47.

Gold was at $1,581.40 at 0200 GMT compared with $1,578.68 late Friday.

dan/mtp

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130310/asian-markets-mixed-china-data-offsets-us-jobs-news