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Asia: Shares mixed after consensus-beating Japan GDP data

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Asian shares were mixed on Monday, with Tokyo helped by better-than-expected Japanese growth figures while Shanghai fell despite a government pledge to support China's volatile stock markets.

[HONG KONG] Asian shares were mixed on Monday, with Tokyo helped by better-than-expected Japanese growth figures while Shanghai fell despite a government pledge to support China's volatile stock markets.

The dollar strengthened after solid US data boosted expectations of an imminent US rate rise, heaping pressure on oil prices after they slid to a six-and-a-half-year low last week.

Sydney rose 0.31 per cent, while Seoul dropped 0.46 per cent and Hong Kong dipped 1.03 per cent in morning deals.

Shanghai stocks lost 0.65 per cent, following their biggest weekly gain in two months, even after Beijing pledged to support the country's volatile markets for the new few years.

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Meanwhile, Tokyo shares rose 0.35 per cent after news Japan's economy shrank a lower-than-expected 0.4 per cent in the April-June quarter and 1.6 per cent from a year ago.

The weak reading beat market expectations for a quarterly fall of 0.5 per cent, or a 1.8 per cent annualised drop, and spurred hopes the government will intervene to help prop up the stumbling economy.

"The GDP data isn't bad," Andrew Clarke, director of trading at brokerage Mirabaud Asia, told Bloomberg News.

"It's a small step in the right direction." Chinese shares fell, despite the government on Friday vowing to support equities for a "number of years" in a bid to end extreme volatility in the stock market.

The move, which analysts said was designed to soothe investors' frazzled nerves, came after the central bank's shock devaluation of the yuan on Tuesday sent global financial markets into turmoil.

The sudden cut in the Chinese currency inflamed fears Asia's top economy is growing slower than previously thought, hurting commodity prices and sparking the worst two-day selloff in Asia-Pacific currencies since 1998.

But Shanghai equities added almost six percent over the week on expectations the cut would boost China's flagging economy and hopes it augured more support measures from Beijing.

On Monday China lifted the daily reference rate for the yuan against the dollar by 0.01 per cent.

"The situation surrounding the yuan has passed its peak and there's a sense of calm," Hirotsugu Nagata, from the investment information department at Mizuho Securities, told Bloomberg News.

"The market's attention now returns to the US rate increase." Wall Street finished higher Friday after solid industrial production, wholesale prices and July retail sales data all signalled the world's top economy is strengthening.

The numbers all added to expectations the US Federal Reserve could be set to raise its key interest rate as early as next month, driving up the dollar in Asia on Monday.

The greenback was quoted at 124.39 yen, up modestly from 124.32 yen in New York late Friday.

The euro slid to US$1.1096 and 138.01 yen from US$1.1112 and 138.14 yen.

But the stronger US currency added to pressure on oil prices, which continued their slide after notching their seventh straight week of falls on expectations of a growing supply glut.

A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated oil more expensive for overseas investors and so tends to hurt demand.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for September delivery fell 49 cents to US$42.01 and Brent crude for October tumbled 59 cents to US$48.60 a barrel in morning Asian trade.

AFP

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