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Asian shares end mostly lower after China data

Asian markets were mostly lower on Monday, after China released data showing the economy in 2013 recorded its slowest growth rate for more than a decade.

HONG KONG: Asian markets were mostly lower on Monday, after China released data showing the economy in 2013 recorded its slowest growth rate for more than a decade.

The losses came after a broadly negative lead from Wall Street, while Japanese gaming giant Nintendo briefly lost almost a fifth of its value following a forecast last week that it would see a net loss this fiscal year.

Tokyo fell 0.59 per cent, or 92.78 points, to 15,641.68, Sydney lost 0.21 per cent, or 10.9 points, to close at 5,295.0 and Shanghai ended 0.68 per cent, or 13.70 points, lower at 1,991.25.

Hong Kong closed 0.88 per cent lower, giving up 204.40 points to 22,928.95.

However, Seoul rose 0.48 per cent, or 9.30 points, to 1,953.78.

China said in the morning that its economy grew 7.7 per cent last year, the same as 2012, which was the slowest since 1999. Gross domestic product expansion for the October-December quarter also came in at 7.7 per cent, the National Bureau of Statistics said, from 7.8 per cent in the previous three months.

The bureau said the economy "showed good momentum of stable and moderate growth" but it warned of "deep-rooted problems" including a mountain of local authority debt.

UOB Kay Hian analyst Fan Zhang told Dow Jones Newswires: "We see more downside pressure for China's economic growth in 2014, mainly due to tight monetary policy, rising funding cost and slow recovery of demand."

That was supported by Wendy Chen, Shanghai-based analyst for Nomura International, who told AFP: "Judging from the data, our outlook for 2014 remains that China's economy will continue slowing down in the first half."

In Japan, Nintendo's share price dived 18.43 per cent at one point in response to its announcement on Friday that it expects a loss of 25 billion yen (US$240 million) in the year to March, reversing an earlier 55 billion yen net profit forecast. The firm managed to claw back some of the losses and ended down 6.14 per cent.

The sell-off added to pressure on the Nikkei index as the yen also rose against the dollar and euro on speculation that the Bank of Japan will maintain its easy money policy when its policy board meets this week.

Reports said officials will wait until they can gauge the effect of a sales tax due to be introduced in April.

In Tokyo, the dollar bought 104.16 yen against 104.30 yen in New York on Friday.

The euro bought US$1.3541 and 141.06 yen compared with US$1.3535 and 141.17 yen in US trade.

Investors were given a soft lead from Wall Street on Friday after a mixed set of economic US data.

Official figures showed housing starts tumbled almost 10 per cent in December from a five-year high seen in November. Separately, the Federal Reserve said industrial output rose 0.3 per cent month on-month in December, extending its streak of gains since July.

The Dow rose 0.25 per cent but the S&P 500 fell 0.39 per cent and the Nasdaq lost 0.50 per cent.

In oil trade, New York's main contract, West Texas Intermediate for February delivery, was down 47 cents at US$93.90 a barrel in afternoon trade. Brent North Sea crude for March dropped 21 cents to US$106.27.

Gold fetched US$1,254.61 at 1130 GMT compared with US$1,241.24 late Friday.

In other markets, Mumbai rose 0.67 per cent, or 141.43 points, to 21,205.05; Bangkok lost 0.42 per cent, or 5.42 points, to 1,289.99; Jakarta closed 0.44 per cent, or 19.34 points, higher at 4,431.57; Kuala Lumpur's main index lost 0.30 per cent, or 5.42 points, to close at 1,807.59; Taipei rose 0.30 per cent, or 25.56 points, to 8,621.56; Wellington closed flat, edging down 3.45 points to 4,890.50; and Manila closed 0.31 per cent higher, adding 18.51 points to 6,005.60. 

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