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Asian stocks mixed, link date lifts Hong Kong and Shanghai


[HONG KONG] Asian markets were mixed Monday, with Japanese shares succumbing to profit-taking while Hong Kong and Shanghai rallied after a launch date was announced for a trading link between their stock exchanges.

The dollar retreated from multi-year highs despite another record close on Wall Street that came in response to broadly upbeat jobs data.

Tokyo slipped 0.59 per cent, or 99.85 points, to finish at 16,780.53 after ramping up gains of more than 10 per cent in the previous six sessions as the Bank of Japan unveiled fresh monetary easing measures.

In the afternoon Hong Kong was up 1.80 per cent and Shanghai was 2.09 per cent higher.

Seoul closed up 0.95 per cent, or 18.36 points, at 1,958.23 while Sydney fell 0.45 per cent, or 25.1 points, to 5,524.0.

Dealers in Hong Kong and Shanghai cheered news that the delayed trading link between the two stock exchanges would start on November 17.

The connection - which is expected to allow the equivalent of US$3.8 billion a day in cross-border transactions - had originally been slated for last month, but was put off as pro-democracy protesters shut down sections of Hong Kong.

The link-up is expected to see volumes on both exchanges rise significantly.

However, the euphoria over the announcement was tempered by news that Chinese inflation was unchanged at 1.6 per cent in October, well off the government's target of 3.5 per cent and adding to fears about the strength of the world's number two economy.

Data Saturday also showed growth in exports and imports slowed last month.

In the United States the Dow and S&P 500 ended Friday with a third straight record close after the Labor Department said the economy added 214,000 jobs last month.

While that figure was weaker than the forecast 235,000, the previous two months' job gains were revised upward and the unemployment rate slipped to a six-year low.

The Dow edged up 0.11 percent and the S&P 500 nudged 0.03 per cent higher, but the Nasdaq eased 0.13 per cent.

The result weighed on the dollar, which slipped from a seven-year high against the yen.

The greenback was at 114.06 yen Monday, down from 114.62 yen in New York Friday and well off the 115.39 yen in Tokyo earlier Friday.

The euro boughtUS $1.2479 and 142.37 yen against US$1.2456 and 142.78 yen in US trade.

Japan's Nikkei slipped on the stronger yen.

"Given that a great deal of the market's gains over the last several days and months have come on the back of a stronger US currency, its weakness naturally invites profit-taking," said Nomura Securities equity market strategist Junichi Wako.

But he added that "a severe selloff is unlikely", partly because the Bank of Japan and government pension funds are known to be buying on the dip.

On oil markets US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for December delivery rose 32 cents to US$78.97. Brent crude for December was up 45 cents at US$83.84 in afternoon trade.

Gold was at US$1,171.69 an ounce, compared with US$1,144.92 late Friday.

In other markets: - Taipei added 1.54 per cent, or 137.36 points, to 9,049.98.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co rose 2.67 per cent to Tw$134.5 while Hon Hai Precision Industry closed 2.08 per cent higher at Tw$98.3. Wellington rose 0.95 per cent, or 51.35 points, to 5,470.34.

Fletcher Building added 2.87 per cent to NZ$8.60 and Spark was up 3.27 per cent at NZ$3.155.