Asia stocks muted as China data, Wall St weighed

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Associated Press

Posted on May 8, 2014 at 10:10 PM

Updated Thursday, May 8 at 11:36 PM

TOKYO (AP) — Asian stock markets were subdued Friday as investors weighed a fall in Chinese inflation against a negative cue from Wall Street.

China's inflation eased in April to 1.8 percent, a possible boost for stock markets since it gives Beijing more leeway to stimulate the slowing Chinese economy if needed. In a sign of concern over possible job losses, Beijing launched a mini-stimulus in March based on higher spending on building railways and other public works but leaders have so far ruled out bigger efforts.

The Nikkei 225 stock average, the major barometer for the Tokyo Stock Exchange, gained 0.6 percent to 14.243.25. Investors are waiting for more earnings reports, with Nissan and Sony due to release results next week.

South Korea's Kospi edged up 0.2 percent to 1,954.83 and Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.2 percent to 21,881.20.

Elsewhere, Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.3 percent to 5,459.30 and China's Shanghai Composite Index fell 0.2 percent to 2,013.70. Stock markets in Southeast Asia were higher.

On Wall Street, shares finished mostly lower as investors assessed the latest batch of U.S. company earnings and sold utility and energy stocks.

The Standard & Poor's 500 fell 0.1 percent to 1,875.63. The Dow Jones industrial average edged up 0.2 percent to 16,550.97. The Nasdaq composite lost 0.4 percent to 4,051.50.

The big news in Europe's trading session was comments from the European Central Bank's president, Mario Draghi, who gave a strong hint that the bank may ease its monetary policy next month, sending the euro lower.

Stocks in Europe weren't affected too much by Draghi as the focus remained on a vow from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen to maintain low interest rates. Germany's DAX rose 0.9 percent to finish at 9,607.40 and the CAC-40 in France added 1.4 percent to 4,507.24. Britain's FTSE 100 added 0.6 percent to 6,839.25.

Benchmark U.S. crude for June delivery was up 19 cents at $100.45 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The fell 51 cents to close at $100.26 on Thursday.

In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3834 from $1.3842 late Thursday. The dollar rose to 101.74 yen from 101.62 yen.

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