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Tokyo: Stocks fall after Wall St losses

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[TOKYO] Tokyo stocks extended their losses Friday while Wellington also retreated after a sharp drop on Wall Street but the euro pushed higher following an upbeat eurozone inflation reading.

Sydney edged up on news that manufacturing activity in China - a crucial market for many Australian firms - continued to grow slowly in April.

The Nikkei 225 index at the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 0.17 per cent - a day after plunging 2.69 per cent - while Wellington lost 0.34 per cent and Sydney added 0.17 per cent.

All other major Asian markets were closed for public holidays.

New York's three main indexes fell sharply on Thursday as a dive in unemployment claims was overshadowed by a weak round of earnings reports and data showing only modest growth in consumer spending.

The Dow fell 1.08 per cent, the S&P 500 shed 1.01 per cent and the Nasdaq was down 1.64 per cent.

Japan said Friday that the nation's core inflation picked up for the first time in 10 months in March.

Core inflation, excluding volatile fresh food prices, rose 2.2 per cent year-on-year in March partly on higher utilities bills, logging the first increase since May 2014, data from the internal affairs ministry showed.

However, stripping out the impact of a sales tax rise last year, inflation was a tepid 0.2 per cent, well short of the Bank of Japan's 2.0 per cent target.

On currency markets the euro fetched US$1.1216 and 133.99 yen against US$1.1224 and 134.00 yen in New York.

The single currency jumped after figures showed eurozone inflation at zero in April, the first time it has been out of negative territory in four months, while Spain's economy grew in January-March at its fastest pace since 2007.

Euro-buying has also been supported by hopes Greece will be able to strike a bailout reform deal with its creditors that will help it avert a bailout and remain in the eurozone.

The greenback bought 119.44 yen, up from 119.38 yen in New York late Thursday.

China's official purchasing managers index came in at 50.1 last month, the same as in March when the gauge expanded for the first time this year. Anything above 50 points to growth, while anything below points to contraction.

While positive, the figures suggest the Asian economy is still struggling with a sharp slowdown.

Oil prices were mixed after a rally on Thursday that came on hopes a glut in the United States is easing.

US benchmark West Texas Intermediate for June delivery rose one cent to US$59.64 a barrel, while Brent for June eased six cents to US$66.72.

Gold fetched US$1,184.52 against US$1,202.84 late Thursday.

AFP