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Asian Shares Mostly Lower On Weak Chinese Data

stockmarkets dec26 18oct19 lt

Asian stocks ended mostly lower on Friday, with disappointing Chinese data and uncertainty about final approval of the draft Brexit deal keeping investors nervous ahead of the weekend.

Chinese stocks saw their steepest daily drop in a month as weak GDP data raised fresh worries over the health of the world's second-largest economy.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 39.19 points, or 1.3 percent, to 2,938.14, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index fell 128.91 points or 0.5 percent to 26,719.58.

China's economy grew at the slowest rate in nearly three decades in the third quarter, raising pressure on policymakers to roll out more stimulus.

China's GDP grew 6 percent year-on-year in the third quarter after rising 6.2 percent in the second quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said. This was the slowest growth since the early 1990s. Growth was forecast to slow marginally to 6.1 percent.

Industrial production advanced 5.8 percent annually in September after rising 4.4 percent in August and 4.8 percent in July. Output was expected to climb 4.9 percent.

Annual growth in retail sales increased to 7.8 percent, in line with expectations. During January to September, fixed asset investment grew 5.4 percent, which was slightly slower than the forecast of 5.5 percent increase.

Meanwhile, Japanese shares hit a 10-month high, with tech stocks leading the surge following upbeat earnings from Taiwan's TSMC. Sentiment was also boosted after the government said the trade deal reached between the U.S. and Japan will boost domestic growth by about 0.8 percent.

The Nikkei 225 Index inched up 40.82 points, or 0.2 percent, to 22,492.68, while the broader Topix closed 0.1 percent lower at 1,621.99 after the release of weak Chinese GDP data.

Screen Holdings, a major chip industry supplier, jumped 7.9 percent and Sumco advanced 4.3 percent. Heavyweight Fast Retailing gained 1.8 percent and Fanuc added 2.2 percent.

Japanese inflation eased to the lowest level in more than two years in September, data showed, raising pressure on the central bank to ease policy further.

Excluding fresh food, inflation eased to 0.3 percent in September from 0.5 percent in August, the statistics bureau reported. This was the lowest since April 2017 and in line with expectations.

Australian markets fell on worries over slowing global growth and skepticism over the Brexit deal. The benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index dropped 35 points, or 0.5 percent, to 6,649.70, while the broader All Ordinaries Index ended down 33.10 points, or 0.5 percent, at 6,758.40.

Healthcare stocks such as CSL and Cochlear fell slightly as the Aussie dollar gained ground. Banks extended losses for a second straight session, with ANZ, NAB and Westpac falling between 0.4 percent and 0.8 percent.

IOOF Holdings rallied 3.6 percent as the banking regulator stood down from appealing a Federal Court decision to dismiss its regulatory action against the wealth manager.

Energy firms Woodside Petroleum and Santos ended modestly lower, while Origin Energy fell as much as 2.5 percent.

Mining stocks ended on a mixed note. Seven West Media rose 1.3 percent after the company said it will merge with regional affiliate Prime Media Group in a A$63.8 million all-stock deal expected to be completed in January.

Shares of Southern Cross Media, which has agreed to buy Seven West's WA radio network Redwave for A$28 million, jumped 2.3 percent.

Seoul stocks fell as worries about slowing growth in China overshadowed optimism from a Brexit deal between the U.K. and the European Union. The Kospi dropped 17.25 points, or 0.8 percent, to 2,060.69.

New Zealand shares declined, with the benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index ending down 74.74 points, or 0.7 percent, at 11,067.12.

U.S. stocks eked out modest gains overnight as a string of earnings topped forecasts, Turkey agreed to pause its Syria assault and U.K. and EU negotiators reached a last-minute agreement on a draft Brexit deal.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1 percent, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite gained 0.4 percent and the S&P 500 added 0.3 percent.

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