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Asian shares mixed after downbeat China, Japan data

Asian shares were mixed Wednesday (Aug 13) as downbeat data from China and Japan sparked renewed concerns for growth in the region's two biggest economies.

HONG KONG: Asian shares were mixed Wednesday (Aug 13) as downbeat data from China and Japan sparked renewed concerns for growth in the region's two biggest economies.

Tokyo shrugged off early losses to close 0.35 percent, or 52.32 points, higher at 15,213.63, despite data which showed the Japanese economy contracted sharply in the latest quarter as a sales tax increase slammed the breaks on household spending.

Shanghai ended flat at 2,222.88 and Hong Kong closed up 0.81 percent, or 200.93 points, at 24,890.34 as new statistics showed key indicators including industrial production slowed in July, raising concerns for growth in the world's second-largest economy. Seoul gained 1.02 percent, or 20.89 points, to 2,062.36 but Sydney eased 0.28 percent, or 15.62 points, to 5,514.7.

Minutes before the opening bell, Tokyo announced that the world's number three economy shrank by 1.7 percent in the April-June quarter - which translated into a 6.8 percent drop on an annualised basis.

A string of disappointing Chinese data further weighed on market sentiment. China's bank lending plunged to 385.2 billion yuan (S$78.1 billion) in July, a dramatic decline from June's 1.08 trillion yuan as the weakening property sector hit demand for loans. China also released figures for industrial output, retail sales and fixed-asset investment that were in line with expectations but slightly slower from the previous month's data.

Investors were also cautiously eyeing geopolitical tensions in Ukraine as a convoy of 262 Russian trucks headed towards the border. Kiev vowed to block the aid mission from its territory over fears it was a ploy to bolster pro-Kremlin rebels. The United States and European Union have already imposed an array of sanctions on Russia in response to what they see as Moscow's military support for rebels in Ukraine.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped 0.06 percent to 16,560.54 on Tuesday as new data showed investment sentiment in Germany, the eurozone's biggest economy, was taking a hit from the crisis over Russia and Ukraine.

The widely-watched investor confidence index calculated by the ZEW economic institute fell 18.5 points to 8.6 points in August, its lowest level since December 2012.

Investors were also focused on key US retail sales data due later Wednesday, which will shed light on consumer sentiment in the world's top economy.

In currency markets, the dollar fetched 102.28 yen in afternoon Asian trade compared with 102.24 yen in New York. The euro bought US$1.3364 and 136.69 yen against US$1.3368 and 136.67 yen.

In oil markets, US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery rose four cents to US$97.41 in afternoon Asian trade while Brent crude for September was down 31 cents at US$102.71.

Gold traded at US$1,308.52 an ounce at 0840 GMT compared to US$1,312.30 an ounce late Tuesday.

In other markets:

-- Wellington ended flat, edging down 0.02 percent, or 1.10 points, to 5,054.70.

Casino operator SkyCity was up 1.97 percent at NZ$3.62 percent and Trade Me slipped 0.86 percent to NZ$3.44.

-- Manila also ended flat, edging up 0.04 percent, or 2.75 percent, to 6,986.24.

The Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. rose 0.26 percent to 3,124 pesos but Ayala Land Inc. was unchanged at 31.70 pesos.

-- Taipei rose 0.74 percent, or 68.19 points, to 9,231.31.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co added 0.82 percent to TW$122.5 while Cathay Financial Holding was 1.54 percent higher at TW$49.3.

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