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Asian shares mixed, China data provides lift

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Asian markets were mixed Friday following a Wall Street sell-off, as oil prices hit a nine-month high on concerns about the growing crisis in Iraq but Hong Kong and Shanghai reversed morning losses following upbeat Chinese data.

The dollar and euro rose against the yen after the Bank of Japan said it would stand pat on its stimulus programme despite fears over April's sales tax hike.

Tokyo ended up 0.80 percent, adding 124.31 points to finish at 15,097.84. Shanghai added 0.93 percent, or 19.00 points, to 2,070.72, while Hong Kong advanced 0.62 percent, or 144.15 points, to 23,319.17.

However, Sydney closed 0.44 percent, or 23.7 points, lower at 5,405.1 and Seoul tumbled 1.03 percent, or 20.80 points, to 1,990.85.

New York's three main indexes took a hit Thursday on news that jihadists were pushing towards Baghdad after taking a town to the north, following the capture of two Iraqi provincial capitals this week.

The Dow fell 0.65 percent and the S&P 500 lost 0.71 percent -- both having hit record highs earlier in the week -- and the Nasdaq sank 0.79 percent.

US President Barack Obama raised the prospect of possible air strikes when he said his national security team "is looking at all the options".

Forces from the autonomous Kurdish region have taken control of a swathe of territory they have sought to rule for decades -- including the disputed northern oil hub of Kirkuk.

- Oil at nine-month high -

Adding to the fears over more geopolitical instability is the prospect that supplies from a major oil producer could be cut off. And those worries filtered through to crude markets.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate advanced 73 cents to $107.26 in afternoon trade after surging $2.13 in New York on Thursday to reach its highest level since September.

Brent North Sea crude gained 36 cents to $113.38 per barrel after shooting up $3.07 in London.

In China the government said industrial output and retail sales accelerated in May, with consumption increasing at its fastest pace since December, suggesting renewed strength in the Asian giant.

Industrial production rose 8.8 percent year-on-year, up from 8.7 percent in April and in line with forecasts, while retail sales, a key gauge of consumer spending, increased 12.5 percent, the highest since the end of last year.

The numbers "signal that China's growth momentum may soon bottom out, despite some downside risks", economists at ANZ Bank said in a research note, also citing an acceleration in export growth announced earlier this week.

On foreign exchange markets the dollar was at 101.88 yen in afternoon trade, up from 101.68 yen in New York trade but still off the 102.08 yen in Tokyo earlier Thursday.

The euro was at 138.31 yen from 137.80 yen in New York, while it was also at $1.3573 compared with $1.3553.

The yen weakened after the Japanese central bank's decision to hold off fresh easing measures, saying the economy was recovering, which lifted market confidence. The currency usually benefits from economic uncertainty.

With high oil prices raising the chances of a jump in inflation traders moved into gold, which is a hedge against rising prices. The precious metal was up at $1,273.39 an ounce at 0835 GMT compared with $1,264.20 late Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Wellington slipped 0.47 percent, or 24.60 points, to 5,170.51.

Telecom fell 0.18 percent to NZ$2.71 while Air New Zealand lost 0.66 percent to NZ$2.26.

-- Taipei was flat, edging down 8.26 points to 9,196.39.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. fell 0.4 percent to Tw$123.0 while tech firm HTC rose 0.36 percent to Tw$140.5.

-- Manila closed 0.36 percent lower, giving up 24.23 points to 6,784.95.

Philippine Long Distance Telephone inched down 0.07 percent to 2,868.00 pesos and San Miguel Corp fell 0.73 percent to 81.40 pesos.

dan/kjl

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/131108/germany-marks-nazi-pogrom-anniversary-vigils-twitter