Asian markets mostly down ahead of China data

Asian markets mostly down ahead of China data

HONG KONG - Asian markets were mostly down on Thursday with traders booking profits after another strong rally in the previous session, while they are also awaiting the release of Chinese economic indicators.

Tokyo's Nikkei suffered a deep correction after storming almost four per cent to its highest level since September 2008 as the yen reclaimed some of its losses in recent days.

Tokyo fell 0.93 per cent, or 106.68 points, to 11,357.07 and Seoul slipped 0.23 per cent, or 4.42 points, to 1,931.77.

Sydney rose 0.30 per cent, or 14.7 points, to 4,935.7, Hong Kong fell 0.34 per cent, or 79.93 points to 23,177.00, and Shanghai closed down 0.66 per cent or 15.95 to 2,418.53.

Traders opted out of big risks ahead of the latest numbers from China due to be released on Friday before the country shuts up shop for the Lunar New Year holiday.

Beijing will unveil data on trade and inflation that will provide a clearer idea of the state of the world's number two economy after a string up upbeat figures indicated it has emerged from a severe slowdown.

"After gyrating quite aggressively over the past couple of weeks, markets are taking pause ahead of the Chinese (inflation) data," said Matthew Sherwood, head of investment market research at Perpetual Investments in Sydney.

"In essence, we are probably stuck in a bit of a trading zone after we had such a strong rally in January," he told Dow Jones Newswires.

Eyes were also on a European Central Bank meeting later Thursday that is expected to keep monetary policy on hold.

Analysts said ECB board members would not undertake any more loosening despite worries about slow growth and the strengthening euro.

In foreign exchange markets the yen edged up in Asia following its recent sharp decline but fell back in early European trade. The dollar fetched 93.78 yen in London, compared with 93.57 yen New York late Wednesday.

The euro bought 127.15 yen from 126.46 yen and $1.3560 from $1.3519.

Regional markets were given a soft lead from Wall Street mixed trading day.

The Dow ended 0.05 per cent higher, the S&P 500 climbed 0.05 per cent and the Nasdaq rose 0.10 per cent.

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