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Asia stocks fall as Japan confidence drops

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Asian shares were sluggish Wednesday as deteriorating sentiment among Japanese companies offset solid U.S. retail sales figures.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 stock average fell 3.81 points, or less than 0.1 percent, to 10,312.96.

The central bank’s quarterly “tankan” survey of business confidence showed that the key index for large manufacturers fell for the first time in seven quarters. Companies surveyed also expect sentiment to keep dropping in the months ahead amid worries about a persistently strong yen and slowing global demand.

Markets across the region were mostly down, with benchmarks stuck in narrow ranges.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng index lost 0.6 percent to 23,290.99 and the Shanghai Composite index fell 0.1 percent to 2,924.34. Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 added 0.2 percent to 4,775.60.

Benchmarks in South Korea, Taiwan and Singapore were lower, while New Zealand shares rose slightly.

In Tokyo, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. fell 2.3 percent after surging 8.5 percent the previous day.

Investors moved to lock in profits after Mitsubishi and Nissan Motor Co. announced Tuesday that they would expand their business collaboration. The issue was also weighed by some disappointment that the two companies did not go further, such as a capital tie-up. Nissan shares was unchanged.

Blue-chip tech issues dragged on the market in Seoul, with Samsung Electronics Co. off 1.7 percent.

In New York Tuesday, the Dow Jones industrial average rose 47.98, or 0.4 percent, to 11,476.54. after retail sales rose for the fifth straight month and a survey showed that large companies intend to hire more workers.

Retail sales jumped 0.8 percent in November, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. A survey from the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of big U.S. companies, showed that 45 percent of executives say they expect to add workers over the next six months.

The broader S&P 500 rose 1.13, or 0.1 percent, to 1,241.59. The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index rose 2.81, or 0.1 percent, to 2,627.72.

In currencies, the dollar fell to 83.79 yen from 83.83 yen late Tuesday in New York. The euro was slightly higher at $1.3353 from $1.3351.

Benchmark oil for January delivery was down 55 cents at $87.73 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract lost 33 cents to settle at $88.28 on Tuesday.
Source: AP

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