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Asia shares mostly down, focus on data releases

Asian markets broadly fell Monday despite an uptick on Wall Street, while traders keep an eye on the release of key indicators out of China and Japan later in the week.

HONG KONG: Asian markets broadly fell Monday despite an uptick on Wall Street, while traders keep an eye on the release of key indicators out of China and Japan later in the week.

Tokyo lost 0.64 per cent, or 90.15 points, to finish at 14,006.44, Sydney eased 1.28 per cent, or 70 points, to 5409.0 and Shanghai tumbled 1.05 per cent, or 21.32 points, to 2,005.18.

Seoul closed flat, edging up 1.7 points to 2,015.14 and Hong Kong also ended almost unchanged, edging down 8.41 points to 22,704.50.

US shares finished slightly higher on Friday after upbeat earnings from retailers JC Penney and Nordstrom, while the Commerce Department said overall housing starts rose 13.2 per cent in April from March.

The Dow rose 0.27 pe rcent, the S&P 500 added 0.37 per cent and the Nasdaq gained 0.52 per cent.

Japanese traders were given a lift on Monday by figures showing machinery orders, a leading indicator of corporate capital spending in the country, jumped 19.1 per cent on-month in March.

The figure beat forecasts of a 6.2 per cent rise as firms stocked up ahead of the introduction of a sales tax hike on April 1.

With few catalysts to drive buying, investors are looking to the release of Japanese trade data on Wednesday as well as the Bank of Japan's latest policy meeting.

Thursday will see HSBC release its preliminary results on May manufacturing activity in China, with analysts hoping for signs of a pick-up in the world's number two economy.

The British banking giant will also unveil its early results for the eurozone and United States later in the day.

On foreign exchange markets Monday, the dollar was at 101.39 yen compared with 101.54 yen.

The euro bought $1.3715 and 139.09 yen against $1.3695 and 139.08 yen.

Oil prices edged higher following the outbreak of violence in crude producer Libya after a rogue general attempted a coup, raising concerns about potential supply disruptions, analysts said.

The US benchmark, West Texas Intermediate for delivery in June, rose 56 cents to $102.58 in afternoon trade, while Brent North Sea crude for July rose 40 cents to $110.15.

Gold fetched $1,296.90 an ounce at 0800 GMT compared with $1,293.51 late Thursday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei rose 0.13 per cent, or 11.45 points, to 8,899.90.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co closed 0.82 per cent lower at Tw$121.0 while Hon Hai Precision rose 1.13 per cent to Tw$89.8.

-- Wellington slipped 0.35 per cent, or 18.41 points, to 5,167.78.

Fletcher Building shed 0.3 per cent to NZ$9.10 and Trade Me slipped 1.9 per cent to NZ$3.65.

-- Manila added 0.78 per cent, or 53.19 points, 6,870.90.

BDO Unibank rose 0.11 per cent to 88.65 pesos while Metropolitan Bank and Trust gained 1.96 per cent to 88.50 pesos.

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