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Asian stocks down on mixed US, Japan economic news

By Pamela Sampson
AP Business Writer / December 27, 2011
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BANGKOK—Asian stocks markets fell Wednesday, with trading thinned by year-end holidays and mixed economic news out of the U.S. and Japan.

Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell marginally to 8,436.24. Hong Kong's Hang Seng fell 0.6 percent to 18,510.73, while South Korea's Kospi lost 1 percent to 1,824.59. Australia's S&P ASX 200 lost 1.2 percent to 4,089. Benchmarks in mainland China, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia were also lower.

Bucking the trend was the New Zealand NZX 50, which rose 0.4 percent to 3,228.99. Falling between the Christmas holiday and New Year's, trading throughout the region was generally light.

Japan's industrial output dropped a seasonally adjusted 2.6 percent last month -- the first decline in two months. But the negative news was mitigated by expectations of rebounding manufacturing and production this month and next.

On Wall Street on Tuesday, the Dow Jones lost less than 0.1 percent to close at 12,291.35. The S&P 500 was up marginally to 1,265.43. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.3 percent to 2,625.20.

Consumer confidence surged to an eight-month high, but home prices fell in 19 of the 20 cities tracked by the Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller index. That report dampened investors' enthusiasm about a jump in consumer confidence to the highest level since April.

Benchmark crude oil rose 18 cents to $101.52 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose $1.66 to finish at $101.34 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

In currency trading, the euro was nearly unchanged at $1.3070 from $1.3069 late Tuesday in New York. The euro has been weak because of worries about Europe's government debt crisis. It has edged up against the dollar but is still trading just above an 11-month low of $1.2943 reached on Dec. 14.

The dollar fell to 77.79 yen from 77.85 yen.

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