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Asian Shares Mixed Amid U.S. Rate Hike Worries

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Asian stocks ended mixed on Friday, with Japanese markets posting strong gains in a catch-up rally following a holiday on Thursday.

A cautious undertone prevailed after comments from Federal Reserve officials pointed to aggressive interest rate hikes to bring inflation down to the Fed's 2 percent target.

U.S. producer prices for July slowed at a faster than expected pace, reinforcing investors' views that inflation has peaked.

San Francisco Federal Reserve Bank president Mary Daly warned on Thursday it is far too early for the U.S. central bank to "declare victory" in its fight against inflation.

Chicago Fed President Charles Evans said he believes the Fed has plenty more work to do.

Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari said he is sticking to his view that the U.S. central bank will need to raise its policy rate another 1.5 percentage points this year and more in 2023, even if that causes a recession.

Chinese stocks fell as several COVID-hit cities imposed fresh restrictions and lockdowns after an increase in cases.

Yiwu, a major commodity and manufacturing hub in Zhejiang Province, asked all its residents to stay home for three days — starting early Thursday morning — to contain flare-ups.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index slipped 0.2 percent to 3,276.89, while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index closed 0.5 percent higher at 20,175.62.

Japanese shares ended at a seven-month high amid signs that U.S. inflation may be slowing. The Nikkei 225 Index jumped 2.6 percent to 28,546.98, marking its highest close since January 12. The broader Topix closed 2 percent higher at 1,973.18.

Tech stocks such as Advantest, Screen Holdings and Tokyo Electron surged 4-5 percent. Heavyweight SoftBank Group spiked 5.6 percent after the technology investor said it would book a $34.1 billion gain by cutting its stake in Alibaba Group Holding.

Automaker Honda Motor rallied 3.8 percent after raising the outlook for its full-year operating profit.

Seoul stocks ended a choppy session slightly higher. The Kospi edged up 0.2 percent to 2,527.94. Posco's trading arm, Posco International, soared 9.3 percent on news that it is absorbing Posco Energy to accelerate the shift to green energy business.

Market behemoth Samsung Electronics rose half a percent after its Vice Chairman and de facto head Lee Jae-yong received a presidential pardon over a bribery case.

Australian markets declined, with miners and tech stocks leading losses. Higher oil prices lifted energy stocks, with Woodside Energy rallying 3.7 percent.

Coal explorer Stanmore Resources jumped 10.9 percent on news its unit would buy Mitsui & Co's remaining 20 percent stake in BHP Mitsui Coal.

The benchmark S&P ASX 200 Index dropped 0.5 percent to 7,032.50 but posted its fourth straight weekly gain. The broader All Ordinaries Index ended half a percent lower at 7,288.80.

New Zealand shares ended slightly lower as a strong kiwi dollar weighed on exporters. The benchmark S&P NZX-50 Index dipped 0.3 percent to close at 11,730.52. Ahead of next week's monetary policy meeting, a survey showed that manufacturing activity in the country expanded in July.

U.S. stocks gave up early gains to end mostly lower overnight, as recession worries persisted and top Fed officials signaled they expect interest rate hikes to continue into 2023

The latest economic data painted a mixed picture, with jobless claims rising for a second straight week while the July producer price index showed a surprise decline from June.

The Dow finished marginally higher, while the S&P 500 ended little changed with a negative bias and the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite shed 0.6 percent.

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