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Asian shares mixed after China growth data

Asian markets were mixed Wednesday, with investors unimpressed by data showing better than expected Chinese economic growth in the second quarter.

HONG KONG: Asian markets were mixed Wednesday, with investors unimpressed by data showing better than expected Chinese economic growth in the second quarter.

The dollar held on to gains made in New York after US Federal Reserve head Janet Yellen suggested interest rates could rise earlier than expected if the jobs market continues to pick up.

Tokyo dipped 0.10 percent, or 15.86 points, to finish at 15,379.30, while Sydney rose 0.14 percent, or 7.6 points, to 5,518.9 and Seoul edged up 0.76 points to 2,013.48.

Shanghai eased 0.15 percent, or 3.08 points, to 2,067.28 while Hong Kong added 0.27 percent, or 63.32 points, to close at 23,523.28.

China's National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday the economy grew 7.5 percent in April-June thanks largely to government stimulus measures aimed at tackling a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

The figure beat the 7.4 percent in the previous three months and exceeded the median forecast of 7.4 percent in a survey of 17 economists by AFP.

"Generally speaking, China's economy showed good momentum of stable and moderate growth in the first half-year," said statistics bureau spokesman Sheng Laiyun.

However he added "we should keep in mind that the domestic and international economic environment is still complicated and the national economy still faces many challenges".

Beijing has introduced a series of policies since April to shore up growth, including tax breaks for small enterprises, infrastructure spending and the encouragement of lending in rural areas and to small companies.

Julian Evans-Pritchard, China economist at Capital Economics, said: "Today's data clearly demonstrate that policymakers have plenty of tools to shore up growth if necessary and we expect that further targeted measures may be rolled out to offset continued weakness in the property sector."

In New York the three main indexes finished mixed Tuesday, with the Nasdaq the big loser after the Fed said in a report that it thought some technology stocks appeared overvalued.

The tech-heavy index ended 0.54 percent lower, while the broad-based S&P 500 fell 0.19 percent and the Dow inched up 0.03 percent.

On currency markets the dollar was at 101.69 yen in afternoon Tokyo trade, compared with 101.67 yen late in New York Tuesday and well up from the 101.50 yen earlier Tuesday in Asia.

The greenback got a lift after Yellen told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that rate rises could come "sooner and be more rapid than currently envisioned" if the jobs market strengthens further.

The latest data from the Labor Department showed the world's number one economy added far more jobs than expected in June, while the unemployment rate dipped.

But she added that the direction of interest rates "likely would be more accommodative than currently anticipated" if economic performance is disappointing.

The euro bought $1.3551 and 137.81 yen compared with $1.3570 and 137.97 yen.

Oil prices were higher. US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for August delivery rose 62 cents to $100.58, while Brent crude was up $1.28 at $107.30 in afternoon trade.

Gold fell to $1,296.30 an ounce at 0810 GMT compared with $1,312.34 late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Taipei slipped 0.88 percent, or 84.44 points, to 9.484.73.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co was 1.88 percent lower at TW$130.5 while Hon Hai Precision lost 3.15 percent to TW$107.5.

-- Wellington was flat, edging down 1.15 points to 5,114.24.

Air New Zealand was off 0.72 percent at NZ$2.055 and Contact Energy slipped 1.83 percent to NZ$5.35.

-- Manila was closed because of Typhoon Rammasun.

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