HONG KONG – Chinese stocks surged after disappointing exports raised investor hopes of more stimulus while gains on other Asian markets were restrained despite an upbeat U.S. jobs report. The Nikkei was nearly flat while the yen weakened after revised figures showed that Japan's economy shrank more the first estimated last quarter.
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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 edged up less than 0.1 percent to 17,927.91. South Korea's Kospi dipped 0.4 percent to 1,978.82 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng gained 0.3 percent to 24,085.40. The Shanghai Composite in mainland China jumped 1.4 percent to 2,979.31 and Australia's S&P/ASX 200 advanced 1 percent to 5,385.70.
CHINA TRADE: Export growth slumped last month while imports contracted rather than expanded as had been forecast in the latest sign of weakness in the world's No. 2 economy. Chinese stocks, however, rallied following the report, a sign that investors expect the government to add dole out more stimulus.
THE QUOTE: "Investors will be concerned that any significant miss to the downside with these figures may herald a downgrade of forecasts for China's overall growth," said Ric Spooner of CMC Markets in Sydney. "While any downgrade could trigger further government stimulus initiatives, the near-term impact of these may be relatively limited given China's oversupplied property market."
JAPAN ECONOMY: The Japanese economy contracted more than initially estimated in the third quarter, according to revised data, confirming a recession as the country prepares to go to the polls. With figures showing that the world's No. 3 economy shrank 1.9 percent in the July-September period, voters will be deciding this weekend whether to give Prime Minister Shinzo Abe more time for his monetary easing and other stimulus policies to work. Polls suggest Abe's ruling Liberal Democratic Party will retain its parliamentary majority.
US JOBS: Regional markets got a boost from data that showed U.S. employers added 321,000 jobs last month in the biggest burst of hiring in nearly three years. Unemployment held steady at 5.8 percent. It's the latest round of upbeat data on the world's biggest economy that reinforces expectations that the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next year.
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WALL STREET: The Dow Jones industrial average on Friday rose 0.3 percent to close at 17,958.79. The Standard & Poor's 500 added 0.2 percent to 2,075.37. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.2 percent to 4,780.76.
CURRENCIES: The dollar crept higher to 121.55 yen from 121.50 yen in late trading Friday. The euro rose to $1.2289 from $1.2286.
ENERGY: Benchmark U.S. crude loss 78 cents, or more than 1 percent, to $65.06 in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 97 cents to close at $65.84 a barrel on Friday. Brent crude, used to price oil sold on international markets, dropped 81 cents to $68.26.