Asian stocks were mostly lower Friday as Japan's market paused ahead of economic data next week that could provide the pretext for a snap election to renew the government's mandate for its unprecedented stimulus program. Chinese markets were more restrained after days of strong gains in anticipation of wider investor access to the country's stocks on Monday.
KEEPING SCORE: Japan's benchmark Nikkei 225 index slipped 0.2 percent to 17,359.92 and South Korea's Kospi slid 0.8 percent to 1,945.44. Hong Kong's Hang Seng was up 0.1 percent to 24,038.23 while mainland China's Shanghai Composite fell 0.5 percent to 2,472.71. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 edged up 0.1 percent to 5,448.40.
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STOCK LINK: The Hong Kong and Shanghai stock markets were subdued ahead of the launch of a cross-border stock trading link on Monday that will allow investors direct access to each other's exchanges for the first time. The benchmarks made big gains earlier this week in anticipation that the link will draw new capital.
JAPAN ECONOMY: Tokyo stocks held steady after a week of big gains as investors looked ahead to the Monday release of the latest quarterly GDP data for Asia's second largest economy. Japanese shares have been rising all week in hopes Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will call a snap election to seek a stronger mandate for his economic stimulus program, and weak data may give him an excuse to do so.
WALL STREET: All three major U.S. benchmarks closed slightly higher. The Dow Jones industrial average rose 0.2 percent to 17,652.79, its seventh record close in eight trading days. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose or less than a tenth of a percentage point, to 2,039.33. The Nasdaq composite rose or 0.1 percent, to 4,680.14.
CURRENCIES: The dollar slipped to 116.04 yen from 116.07 in late trading Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.2455 from $1.2466.
ENERGY: Oil prices bounced after hitting a four-year low. Benchmark U.S. crude added 13 cents to $74.34 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $2.97 to close at $74.21 on Thursday. Brent crude, a benchmark for international oils used by many U.S. refineries, gained 61 cents to $78.10.