Tokyo stocks retreat from 15-year high, other Asian stocks higher

Energy Associated Press

Japan's Nikkei retreated from the highest level in 15 years on Friday while other Asian markets advanced as low Chinese inflation added to expectations Beijing will launch new stimulus.

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KEEPING SCORE: Japan's Nikkei 225 edged down 0.2 percent to 19,976.94 after exceeding 20,000 for the first time since April 2000 during the morning session. The Shanghai Composite Index gained 1.5 percent to 4,017.67 and South Korea's Kospi rose 1.2 percent to 2,083.45. Hong Kong's Hang Seng edged up 0.2 percent to 26,988.18 and Australia's S&P ASX 200 gained 0.5 percent to 5,963.70. India's Sensex shed 0.1 percent to 28,854.65. Benchmarks in Singapore, Taiwan and Manila also advanced.

NIKKEI AT RECORD: Japan's Nikkei index finally traded above the 20,000 level driven by the expectations for Japan's economic recovery and brisk corporate earnings, following the aggressive monetary stimulus program. The benchmark index, however, could not sustain that level as investors turned to take profits.

CHINA DATA: China reported March consumer inflation held steady at 1.4 percent, well below the government's official target, fueling expectations the central bank might launch new stimulus measures in response to fears of deflation. Producer prices, measured as goods leave the factory, fell 4.6 percent from a year earlier, extending a lengthy decline. Low inflation is a boon to consumers but a bout of potentially damaging deflation could add to fears about the Chinese growth outlook.

WALL STREET: U.S. stocks edged higher on Thursday, led by gains for energy companies as the price of oil stabilized following a big drop the day before. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.5 percent to 2,091.18. The Dow Jones industrial average gained 0.3 percent to 17,958.73. The Nasdaq composite advanced 0.5 percent to 4,974.56.

OIL: Benchmark U.S. crude shed 5 cents to $50.74 a barrel in New York Mercantile Exchange. It rose 37 cents to close at $50.79 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, rose 23 cents to $57.92 per barrel in London.

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CURRENCIES: The dollar edged down to 120.531 yen from 120.571 yen while the euro gained to $1.0669 from $1.0662.