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Asian Shares Mostly Lower After Disappointing China Data

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Asian stocks erased early gains to end mostly lower on Thursday after a raft of Chinese data came in below estimates. Investors also awaited the release of U.S. inflation data later in the day for clues on the possible timing of the Federal Reserve's next rate rise.

Chinese shares eased from a 20-month high after the release of weaker-than-expected data. The benchmark Shanghai Composite shed 12.72 points or 0.38 percent to finish at 3,371.43 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng index was down 0.37 percent at 27,792 in late trade.

China's industrial output grew an annual 6.0 percent in August, the National Bureau of Statistics said - missing forecasts for an increase of 6.6 percent and down from 6.4 percent in July.

Retail sales rose 10.1 percent - again missing expectations for 10.5 percent growth, while fixed asset investment advanced an annual 6.7 percent - shy of forecasts for 6.8 percent.

Japanese shares edged lower to snap a three-day winning streak as the dollar held steady against the yen and data showed Japan's industrial output declined as initially estimated in July.

Sentiment also turned sour after North Korea threatened to use nuclear weapons to "sink" Japan and reduce the United States to "ashes and darkness" for supporting a new round of sanctions by the United Nations.

The Nikkei average fell by 58.38 points or 0.29 percent to 19,807.44, dragged down by commodity-related stocks like Toho Zinc and Mitsui Mining & Smelting.

The broader Topix index hit its highest level in more than two years before reversing direction to end the session 0.32 percent lower at 1,632.13.

Toshiba Corp tumbled 4.5 percent after saying it was stepping up talks to sell its flash memory unit to a consortium led by U.S. investment fund Bain Capital.

Australian shares fell for a second day after China reported weak factory data and domestic data showed the unemployment rate held steady in August despite phenomenal employment growth.

Both the S&P/ASX 200 index and the All Ordinaries index slid around 0.1 percent to end at 5,738.70 and 5,798.40, respectively.

Mining heavyweights BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto fell about 2 percent as base metal prices slid on muted demand. South32 shed 0.9 percent after reiterating its support for a carbon pricing mechanism.

The big four banks rose between 0.3 percent and 0.8 percent while energy majors Woodside Petroleum and Santos rose about 1 percent after crude prices jumped more than 2 percent overnight.

Gold miners fell across the board as gold edged down to its lowest in nearly two weeks. Myer Holdings advanced 1.4 percent despite the department store giant reporting a nearly 2 percent decline in full-year underlying profit.

Seoul shares hit three-week high after a bout of late buying in automakers and technology stocks as credit rating agency Standard & Poor's said tensions over a raft of provocations by North Korea are not high enough to change its outlook on the rating of the country.

The benchmark Kospi climbed 17.48 points or 0.74 percent to 2,377.66, its highest level since Aug. 25.

New Zealand shares ended a choppy session slightly lower ahead of manufacturing PMI data slated for release later in the day. The benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slid 8.20 points or 0.10 percent to 7,819.23, dragged down by telecom and utility stocks.

Indian shares were marginally higher and benchmark indexes in Indonesia and Taiwan were up around 0.2 percent while Singapore's Straits Times index was losing 0.6 percent and Malaysia's KLSE Composite was down 0.2 percent.

Overnight, U.S. stocks eked out modest gains to set new closing highs as oil prices rose and retailer Target issued a strong hiring forecast, helping offset concerns over Apple's new iPhone X.

The Dow rose 0.2 percent, while the Nasdaq Composite and the S&P 500 inched up around 0.1 percent each.

by RTT Staff Writer

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