Asian stocks eased, but trade was thin with several markets
closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Several countries, including China, Hong Kong and Singapore,
were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Initially, Japanese stocks were cheered by some strong data.
Core consumer inflation rose at the fastest pace in more than five
years in December. Core CPI, which excludes volatile fresh-food
costs, climbed 1.3% from a year earlier in December, faster than a
1.2% gain in the previous month. It was the biggest rise since a
1.9% increase in October 2008, and higher than a 1.2% increase
expected the forecast of economists polled by The Wall Street
Journal and the Nikkei.
Japan's seasonally adjusted average unemployment rate fell to
3.7% in December from 4.0% in November, hitting the lowest level in
six years since December 2007, when it was also 3.7%. The pace of
job creation from a year earlier accelerated to 910,000 from
740,000 in November, marking the 12th consecutive year-over-year
increase. The number of unemployed fell 340,000 year over year in
December, the 43rd straight monthly drop.
Industrial production rose 1.1% on month in December. Although
the rise after adjustment for seasonal factors was smaller than the
1.3% increase forecast by economists surveyed by the Wall Street
Journal and the Nikkei, investors were optimistic that production
was still growing.
However, sentiment turned later as some re-interpreted the data
and began to see the downside of the strong data - that the Bank of
Japan may no longer have reason to ease monetary policy.
Elsewhere, Thailand's trade deficit fell to $285 million in
December from $557 million in November, the Ministry of Commerce
said Friday. Exports increased 1.87% on year to $18.44 billion
In ADR news, Canon (
) posted a net profit increase of 5% for the October-December
) lowered its full-year estimates as a result of the slowdown in
The Nikkei ended 0.62% at 14,914.53.